Thirty people were indicted on drug, gun and immigration charges as part of a major investigation into fentanyl, heroin and cocaine trafficking in and around Lawrence, Massachusetts.
The year-long U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-led investigation, dubbed "Operation Bad Company," targeted more than three dozen drug traffickers. Early Tuesday morning, approximately 250 federal, state and local law enforcement agents fanned out across the city of Lawrence and elsewhere.
Twenty-seven of the 30 people who were indicted have been arrested. Another 20 face charges through the Essex County District Attorney's Office. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has arrested four others who are pending deportation. All of the lead defendants were in the U.S. illegally.
Acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb said the drug ring was "one of the largest fentanyl trafficking organizations ever seen in Massachusetts." He said customers would text and call in orders and workers in shifts would deliver the drugs and collect the money.
Officials were tipped off to the operation by a confidential source. The drug ring was led by Juan Anibel Patrone, a Dominican national believed to be living here illegally.
During the investigation, officials said some of the defendants were intercepted discussing the dangers of heroin and fentanly and even chuckling about overdose deaths. One defendent bragged about being deported several times and about the wealth he had amassed in the Dominican Republic.
Seized Tuesday were 2 kilograms of fentanyl and six guns.
Officials said they are confident the arrests will make a tangible difference in those suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Those indicted include:
- 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.