LAWRENCE, MA (WHDH) - More than two dozen people were arrested Tuesday in a federal drug sweep, which authorities say was part of a yearlong investigation aimed at attacking the fentanyl and heroin problem in the Lawrence area.
Thirty individuals were charged with federal drug, gun and immigration charges and two others have been charged with state drug and gun charges for their role in the distribution of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Those arrested as part of “Operation Bad Company” are alleged to have controlled and managed a “lucrative and sophisticated” drug trafficking and distribution ring in the region.
The accused leader of the ring, Juan Anibal Patrone, lived in Lawrence. Federal officials say Patrone was running one of the biggest fentanyl trafficking operations that they’ve ever seen.
“We are confident that the arrests of Patrone and his crew will make a tangible difference in the city of Lawrence and other communities suffering from the opioid epidemic,” United States Attorney William Weinreb said.
Sixteen of those people caught in the drug roundup were said to be living in the country illegally, officials say.
“Defendants were intercepted discussing the dangers of heroin and fentanyl, and even chuckling about overdose deaths,” Weinreb said. “One defendant even bragged about being deported several times.”
The ring worked out of cars fitted with secret compartments, according to investigators. Patron allegedly paid people in shifts to peddle the drugs.
City officials in Lawrence believe the bust will play a major role in reducing overdose deaths.
More than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers were involved in the sweep.
View a full list of those who were charged in federal indictments below:
- Juan Anibal Patrone, a/k/a Juan Anibal, a/k/a Juan Anibal Patrone-Gonzalez, a/k/a Flaco, a/k/a Poppo, a/k/a Carlos, 26, a resident of Lawrence, dual citizen of the Dominican Republic and Italy
- Domingo Gonzalez Martinez, a/k/a Guega, 26, a resident of Lawrence, from the Dominican Republic
- Oscar Francisco Marcano Valverde, a/k/a Oscar Marcado, a/k/a Oscar Malcano, 38, a Dominican national and former resident of Haverhill, currently in custody at Bristol County House of Corrections
- Josuel Moises Patrone-Gonzalez, a/k/a Coqui, a/k/a Kiko, 22, resident of Lawrence, dual citizen of the Dominican Republic and Italy
- Luis F. Lugo, 20, of Lawrence
- Victor Alexander Gonzalez-Gonzalez, a/k/a Alex, 24, Dominican national residing in Lawrence
- Daniel Diaz, 34, of Lawrence, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections
- Luis A. Perez-Tomassini, 29 of Lawrence
- Leonel Vives, 30, of Methuen
- Santo Marino Nivar-Tejeda, a/k/a Mello, 46, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
- Andreury Fana Burgos, a/k/a Andreury Fanas, 21, a resident of Lawrence, from the Dominican Republic
- Lacey Picariello, 33, of Burlington
- Matthew Shover, 29, of Sandown, New Hampshire, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections
- Rafael Omar Arias-Rodriguez, a/k/a Prieto Tita, 37, of Lawrence
- Rafael Arce, 46, of Lawrence
- Reynaldo Duran Lora, 23, of Lawrence
- Stacey Littlefield, 41, of Rochester, New Hampshire
- Melvin Weatherspoon, 57, of Rochester, New Hampshire
- Euclides Alcantara, 49, a resident of Methuen, from the Dominican Republic
- Ramon Gonzalez Nival, a/k/a Santo Ramon Gonzalez Nivar, a/k/a Santo Marino Gonzalez-Nival, a/k/a Santo Marino Guerrero Ruiz, a/k/a Luis Rivera, a/k/a Richard Romero, a/k/a Ismael Rivera-Ayala, a/k/a Caballito, a/k/a Ramoncito, a/k/a Caballo, 40, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
- Jose Rosado Sanchez, a/k/a Chiquito, a/k/a Pequeno, a/k/a Luis D. Resto, a/k/a Timothy O’Leary, a/k/a Luis Vega Martinez, 46 (true identity unknown)
- Julio Baez Gonzalez, a/k/a Manolo, 34, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
- Ruddy Rafael Soto Lara, a/k/a Flor Saez Guzman, a/k/a Yernan Freight, a/k/a Rafael Ruddy, a/k/a Manuel Gonzalez, a/k/a Flor Saez, a/k/a Jorge Navarez, a/k/a Peje, 38, a Dominican national, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections
- Geronimo Confesor Gonzalez Nivar, a/k/a Geronimo Gonzalez-Nival, a/k/a Geronimo Ruiz-Gonzalez; a/k/a Alexie, a/k/a Jaboa, 35, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
- Carlos Hernandez, a/k/a Gordo, 34, of Lawrence, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections
- Rory Connolly, 33, of Manchester, New Hampshire
- Bernaldo Rosario Santiago, a/k/a Bori, 25, of Lowell
- Diosmary Burgos, 39, resident of Lawrence, from the Dominican Republic
- Caonablo Mayobanex Pol Montero, a/k/a Cesar Eliel Echavarria Navarez, a/k/a Ely Manzano, a/k/a Mayo Baney Pol; a/k/a Mayo Pol; a/k/a Eddie Soto; a/k/a Jorge Mercado; a/k/a Israel Cortes; a/k/a Israel Cortez; a/k/a Ismael Guerra Cortez; a/k/a Ismael Cortez; a/k/a Israel P. Cortez; a/k/a Ismael Guerra; a/k/a Jorge L. Santiago; a/k/a Albertoz Vasquez; a/k/a Mayo Baney Montero; a/k/a Mayo Bane Montero; a/k/a Bani, 45, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
- Shawn Keefe, 27, of Lowell
The Essex County District Attorney’s Office charged the following individuals with distribution of fentanyl:
- Leonny Burgos, of Lawrence
- Miriam Roche, of Lawrence
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