A four-month investigation into a drug ring that operated between Massachusetts and Rhode Island was busted last week when 16 people were arrested with nearly a kilogram of fentanyl along with other drugs, cash and a gun, prosecutors said Monday.
About 850 grams of fentanyl, 56 grams of cocaine, steroids and prescription pills were seized in a series of raids in Fall River, Massachusetts, as well as nearby Providence and Smithfield, Rhode Island, the Bristol County, Massachusetts, district attorney said. An illegal gun and $19,000 in cash were uncovered.
The investigation — dubbed "Operation Mouse Trap" — had targeted Michael "Squeak" Rebello, of Fall River, and his drug trafficking operation, according to prosecutors. A wiretap led police to associates in Rhode Island, then other drug runners in and around Fall River.
Rebello is one of the 16 people arrested on drug trafficking charges, pending a hearing on Jan. 3. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.
"The increase in the sale of fentanyl during the last five years has led to a significant increase in the number of fatal overdoes. Through the end of November this year there have been 194 fatal overdoes in Bristol County this year," District Attorney Thomas Quinn said in a statement.
The busts involved cooperation between police in Fall River; Smithfield; Providence; Dartmouth, Rhode Island; East Providence, Rhode Island, and West Warwich Rhode Island, prosecutors said. Officers with Bristol County State Police, Bristol County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Massachusetts State Police were involved in the investigation.
A $2.6 million federal grant for combating the opioid crisis was used to fund the investigation, prosecutors said. The grant was obtained by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who said in a statement that the "operation demonstrates the impact of inter-agency collaboration."