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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2003

Lawrence Man Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison on Drug Charges

Lawrence, MA…A Lawrence man was sentenced late yesterday in federal court for conspiring to distribute crack and cocaine.

Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; and United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan announced that MARCO DE LA PAZ, age 32, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro to 22 years' imprisonment, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. DE LA PAZ, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, may also face deportation following the completion of his prison sentence. DE LA PAZ previously pleaded guilty on October 15, 2002, to charges of conspiring to distribute crack and cocaine.

At the earlier plea hearing, and in filings in connection with sentencing, the prosecutor informed the Court that had the case proceeded to trial the Government's evidence, which included two months of recorded telephone conversation intercepted pursuant to Court Order and the testimony of several co-defendants who either worked for, or were customers of, the DE LA PAZ organization, would have proven that in 1999 and 2000, DE LA PAZ ran a large scale crack operation in Lawrence. DE LA PAZ obtained multi-ounce quantities of powder cocaine, cooked it into crack, and sold it to customers in and around Lawrence. At the height of its operation, the organization was utilizing at least 8 employees to cook the crack, store it at several stash houses, field telephone orders from customers, and deliver the crack by automobile. The organization had close to 50 regular customers and sold at least 2000 rocks of crack cocaine every month. The court found at sentencing the DE LA PAZ was the leader of the organization.

The federal investigation of the DE LA PAZ organization resulted in the indictment of 23 defendants. Of the 23 defendants, 20 have entered guilty pleas and 3 remain fugitives. Of the 20 defendants who have pleaded guilty, 14 have now been sentenced. DE LA PAZ, the leader of organization, received the highest sentence. Several other runners and customers of the organization received sentences of 5 and 6 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Cross-Borders Task Force.

Contact: Anthony J. Pettigrew 617-557-2138

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