23 Charged in Fentanyl Distribution Ring

23 Charged in Fentanyl Distribution Ring

On February 14, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency arrested 23 men and women in connection with a heroin and fentanyl distribution ring. The DEA in connection with local and state partners raided 12 locations throughout Boston and the South Coast Area.

Court documents revealed that two men led the ring: Fernando Rivera-Rodriguez, 31, of Boston and Fernando Hernandez, 42, of Providence, RI. Both ringleaders, according to the investigators, operated independent drug trafficking rings but Hernandez often brokered large deals for Rivera-Rodriguez. Additionally, both men sold to both users and resellers. The list of 23 suspects consisted majorly of resellers and large-scale users.

All 23 faced their initial court appearances but prosecutors noted that two suspects remained at large. Yeurvs Tejeda and Carlos Gonzalez-Figueroa, the two who managed to avoid law enforcement’s first dragnet, faced the same charges as the other 23. Law enforcement held the entire group for conspiring to distribute heroin and Fentanyl between 2016 and early 2017. Several members of the group committed further crimes DEA’s Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson explained.

According to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts:

“A court-authorized wiretap revealed the callous way in which the defendants talked about the deadly effects of the drugs they were distributing. For example, according to the affidavit, Fernando Rivera-Rodriguez, promoted his heroin by telling a drug distributor, that “when you see those people being knocked over . . . you are going to call me back.” The drug distributor did call Rivera-Rodriguez back complaining that the heroin was deadly, saying: “That stuff is not even drug[s]. That is going to kill someone. I think that guy died.” When Rivera-Rodriguez asked, “Did it knock him over?” the distributor said, “I believe so,” and added, “. . . that stuff is that fentanyl. That could kill you.” In response, Rivera-Rodriguez simply said, “Nah, so it’s okay.”

The wiretap also revealed Rivera-Rodriguez boasting about robbing cash and jewelry. For example, Rivera-Rodriguez told Yeurys Tejeda, “We took a little house and we took 13,000 and like three chains, man, and a couple of bracelets, right there in Saugus. And a little while ago, we took another one and took 7,000 from some people also.” Federal agents believe that Rivera-Rodriguez was telling Santos about robbing two houses and stealing over $20,000 in cash and jewelry.”

Rivera-Rodriguez, not unlike the recently convicted man from Akron, Ohio, appeared to willingly distribute fentanyl disguised as heroin. Furthermore, he knew the fentanyl-laced heroin caused harm and possibly death. Statements made by government officials focused on the recent opioid and opiate problem in the US.

“Today’s arrests will help stem the flow of heroin and fentanyl into our communities,” Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said. “The defendants in this case knew the drugs that they were distributing were potent and potentially lethal, yet they continued to brazenly ignore the dangers and even expand their reach into Maine.”

In addition to suspected armed robbery or burglary jewelry and the like, many group members robbed other drug dealers. One of the defendants, Fernandez, “and his associates,” robbed rival drug traffickers for a substantial portion of their drug supply. Many of his associates conducted business with Rivera-Rodriguez, the criminal complaint claimed.

“This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative local, state and federal law enforcement efforts in Massachusetts and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to seek and bring to justice anyone who engages in these crimes,” DEA’s Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson explained.

No further news regarding the two at-large defendants exists.

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