A federal jury convicted a Rhode Island man today for conspiring to import and distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, continuing criminal enterprise, money laundering conspiracy, and multiple obstruction offenses.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Steven Barros Pinto, 40, of Pawtucket, conspired to import kilogram-quantities of fentanyl from China and use the fentanyl to manufacture counterfeit Percocet pills. Pinto personally distributed tens of thousands of the fentanyl-laced pills. Pinto acquired the fentanyl with the assistance of co-conspirators Daniel Vivas Ceron, of Colombia, who pleaded guilty in July 2019, and Anthony Gomes, of Rhode Island, who pleaded guilty in April 2018. Pinto also engaged in a series of obstructive acts intended to silence witnesses and tamper with evidence.
Pinto was convicted of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, conspiracy to import fentanyl and fentanyl analogues into the United States, continuing criminal enterprise, two counts of obstruction of justice, money laundering conspiracy, four counts of contempt, possession of contraband in a correctional facility, and tampering with evidence. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 14, and faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Chase for the District of North Dakota and Acting U.S. Attorney Scott E. Asphaug for the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force, the IRS, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Portland Oregon Police Bureau – Drugs and Vice Division, Portland HIDTA Interdiction Task Force, Oregon State Police and the Grand Forks Police Department. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided valuable assistance.
Trial Attorneys Kaitlin Sahni and Imani Hutty of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon are prosecuting the case.