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Press Release

Boston Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Trafficking

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A drug trafficker operating out of the Boston area has pleaded guilty to his role in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy.
Maurice Coates, 45, of Randolph, pleaded guilty on April 18, 2023 to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for July 26, 2023.

In June 2020, Coates was charged along with 23 others as part of Operation Snowfall.  According to the charging documents, beginning in November 2018, law enforcement conducted an investigation into drug trafficking activities by Boston-based street gang members and associates in the Commonwealth Development in Brighton, formerly known as Fidelis Way, a multi-apartment public housing development. It is alleged that the defendants, through their drug trafficking activities, assumed control over multiple apartments, where they stored, cooked, packaged and sold drugs. As a result, their activities caused a blight of the development and reduced the quality of life of the other residents.
The investigation also targeted large-scale drug suppliers and their associates. It is alleged that the targets continued to distribute cocaine and cocaine base throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown. Coates is the 16th defendant to plead guilty in that case.

Coates was identified as a significant drug supplier and distributor within the drug conspiracy, during which it is estimated he distributed over 500 grams of cocaine. During intercepted calls with co-defendant Kenji Drayton, Coates used drug-coded language to discuss their drug supply needs and to coordinate drug deal meetups. At times, those communications were corroborated by surveillance.  

One remaining defendant in the case has pleaded not guilty and is pending trial. Another defendant, Derek Hart, remains at large. On Sept. 28, 2022, Drayton was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of supervised release. 

The charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $5 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
First Assistant United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division; Brian Kyes, U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts; John E. Mawn, Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; and Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox made the announcement. Assistance with the investigation was provided by the Braintree, Cambridge, Canton, Randolph and Weymouth Police Departments; the Suffolk, Norfolk and Bristol County District Attorneys’ Offices; and the Suffolk, Plymouth and Norfolk County Sheriffs’ Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kaitlin R. O’Donnell and Timothy E. Moran of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit are prosecuting the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 21, 2023

Drug Trafficking