State Police Crack Massive Merrimack Valley Heroin Ring
Jun 29, 2015 02:09PM ● Published by Bill Gilman
Two Lawrence men have been indicted in connection with an extensive fentanyl and heroin packaging and distribution operation involving more than $1 million worth of drugs, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. At the time of arrest, authorities seized almost one kilogram of fentanyl, a kilogram-and-a-half of heroin, four guns, and approximately $5,000 in cash.
Wilkins Diaz, age 39, and Luis Hernandez, age 32, were indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury on Wednesday on one count each of Trafficking Heroin over 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Traffic Heroin, Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl, and Falsification of a License. Diaz and Hernandez were also indicted on four counts each of Possession of a Firearm without an FID Card. They will be arraigned in Essex Superior Court at a later date.
“Fentanyl is an extremely potent opioid that authorities believe has contributed to many heroin-related deaths in Massachusetts,” said AG Healey. “This deadly epidemic of opioid abuse is devastating our families and communities across the state. Our office will hold accountable those who make these lethal drugs available with no regard for the consequences, including the overdoses and deaths of users and the heartbreaking effects on their loved ones.”
Diaz and Hernandez were arrested in May, while trying to flee a Lawrence home, in a joint operation involving Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Transportation Drug Unit (TDU) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In May, authorities from the State Police TDU began an investigation into an alleged drug trafficking operation in the Lawrence area. Authorities executed a search warrant at a Lawrence residence and seized multiple kilograms of suspected heroin, a kilo press, digital scales, approximately $2,000 in cash, and other packaging materials that were found in the home. Diaz had about $3,000 in cash in his pocket at the time of arrest. Four handguns were also found and neither Diaz nor Hernandez had a valid license to carry a firearm.
Subsequent drug analysis determined that of the drugs seized, almost one kilogram was fentanyl and a kilogram-and-a-half was heroin. Authorities allege that Diaz and Hernandez packaged and prepared these drugs for distribution.
Shortly before taking office, Attorney General Maura Healey announced the formation of an internal AG’s task force to more aggressively combat the heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis in Massachusetts.
A recent report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates that more than 1,000 people died from overdoses of heroin and opioids in 2014 in Massachusetts, which is a 33 percent increase from 2012.