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'Devil's Highway' Drug Bust Leads To 38 Merrimack Valley Arrests

Sep 23, 2019 09:19PM

MA state police

Atty. Paul King

 BOSTON – Thirty-eight people have been charged with federal drug offenses, and at least a dozen more individuals face state charges, as part of a 10-week enforcement operation in the Merrimack Valley called “Devil’s Highway'' that seized more than 14 kilos of fentanyl, 29 kilos of cocaine, four firearms and body armor, according to United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

The 10-week enforcement operation, which took place during the summer months, was a coordinated effort by federal, state, and local partners to focus on drug distribution activity in Lawrence and between Lawrence and destinations in New Hampshire. The operation targeted the distribution of opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, and resulted in charges against a total of 38 people for federal drug offenses, with at least a dozen more individuals facing state charges, according to a press release.

In total, Operation Devil’s Highway resulted in the seizure of more than 14 kilograms of fentanyl, five kilograms of heroin, 29 kilograms of cocaine, four firearms, and body armor.

“Operation Devil’s Highway was tremendously successful in targeting street-level drug trafficking in Lawrence, which is a hub of illegal drug distribution for all of New England,” Lelling stated in the press release.

“Operation Devil’s Highway should serve as a warning to others thinking of filling the void created by these arrests—we aren’t finished. Everyone arrested this summer allegedly exploited Lawrence as their drug-trafficking hub, bringing perilous opioids like fentanyl and heroin - in addition to cocaine and marijuana - to neighborhoods across New England,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “That’s why the FBI and our law enforcement partners will not relent in putting those distributors profiting from addiction and lawlessness out of business, so that the hometowns they harm might heal.”

“DEA’s top priority is combatting the opioid epidemic by bringing to justice anyone who distributes deadly drugs,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “Illegal drug distribution ravages the very foundations of our families and communities. These enforcement actions with our federal, state and local partners show what happens when law enforcement works together.”

“The scourge of addiction continues to be fueled by Transnational Criminal Organizations who flood the streets of our commonwealth with poison. Motivated only by profit, we know all too well, that tackling this complex threat involves a united, comprehensive strategy and an aggressive approach by multiple entities across all levels of government,” said Jason J. Molina, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Boston. “The results of this operation should send a clear message that HSI Special Agents remain committed to combatting the opioid crisis by pursuing traffickers at every level of the supply chain.” 

The majority of criminal charges resulted from weekly “sweeps” in the City of Lawrence that targeted individuals distributing opioids. The enforcement actions brought together 40-60 federal, state, and local officers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire each week to conduct surveillance, investigate and arrest defendants.

During the operation, the following defendants were arrested on federal charges:

1)Jason Medlen, 32, of Methuen, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl;

2)Louis Delvecchio, 51, of Methuen, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl;

3)Santos Obispo Guerrera Lara, 35, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

4)Douglas “Sunny” Grasso, 34, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl;

5)Brian Brae, 35, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl; 

6)Enel Alfredo Mendez-Aquino, 29, of Lawrence, charged with distribution of fentanyl and cocaine;

7)Jorge Alexander Andujar Romero, 29, of Lawrence, charged with distribution of and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

8)Edward Jesis Mar Carmona Ortiz, 42, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

9)Steven de Jesus de Leon Trinidad, 22, of Lawrence, charged with distribution and possession with intent to distribute a heroine/fentanyl mix;

10)Luis Felix Franco Herrera, 21, of Lawrence, charged with distribution of and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

11)Jose Rodriquez-Walker, 32, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

12)Johanny Mejia-Nunez, 43, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl;

13)Ronyel Pena, 18, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl;

14)Joe Martinez, 24, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl;

15)Ysrael Nunez, 37, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; distribution of and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl; distribution of and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; and aiding and abetting;

16)William Cabrera, 30, of Lawrence, charged with distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin; and possession with intent to distribute heroin and oxycodone;

17)Oscar Guadalupe Martinez, 37, of North Andover, charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute and distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl and 1 kilogram or more of heroin;

18)Stiven Torres Martinez, 21, of North Andover, charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute and distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl and 1 kilogram or more of heroin;

19)Jason Jimenez, 24, of Bronx, New York, charged with possession with intent to distribute over 40 grams of fentanyl;

20)Milton Elias Lara, 42, of Lawrence, charged with distribution of and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl;

21)Alexsander Padro, 28, of Methuen, charged with distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl;

22)John Mena, 24, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 10 grams or more of acryl fentanyl, a controlled substance analogue;

23)Yunior Darismir Prandys Torres, 22, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute a controlled substance, to wit, fentanyl;

24)Juan Perez Diaz, 22, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute a controlled substance, to wit, fentanyl;

25)Jose Ventura, 37, of Lawrence, charged with distribution of and possession with intent to distribute 10 grams or more of fentanyl;

26)Leisy Baez-Zapata, 21, of Lawrence, charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; distribution of and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; and aiding and abetting;

27)Erick Alberto Paulino Amador, 28, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of fentanyl;

28)Bernardito Carvajal, 28, of Haverhill, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

29)Alfredo Rivera, 31, of Haverhill, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

30)Julio Esthil-Cifre, 30, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

31)Edgar Castro, 45, of Revere, charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine;

32)Julio Ortiz-Chaparro, 47, of Boston, charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine;

33)Crishanty Aybar Arias, 22, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

34)Cesar Lara Castillo, 36, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I controlled substance; false representation of social security number, and aggravated identity theft;

35)Santiago Rubel Guerrero Tejeda, 22, of Bani, Dominican Republic, charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of fentanyl;

36)Jesus Maria Aybar Franco, 34, of Lawrence, charged with distribution and  possession with intent to distribute fentanyl;

37)Marino Amador Baez, 34, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl; and

38)Willin Arias-Castillo, 35, of Lawrence, charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of fentanyl.

The federal charge of drug distribution provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a $1 million fine. The charge of distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a $5 million fine. Charges of distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl and distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine each provide for a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a $10 million fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Lelling, FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta, DEA Boston SAC Boyle and HSI Boston Acting SAC Molina made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police and New Hampshire State Police; the Lawrence Police Department; the Andover, Billerica, Boston, Braintree, Chelsea, Concord, Dartmouth, Dover (N.H.), Franklin, Haverhill, Lowell, Manchester (N.H.), Methuen, Milton, Nashua (N.H.), North Andover, Peabody, Portsmouth (N.H.), Reading, Waltham, Watertown, and Woburn Police Departments; Massachusetts Department of Corrections; New Hampshire Department of Corrections; and Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk County Sheriff’s Departments.

Al Fresca Ristorante

 

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