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Press Release

Dominican National Pleads Guilty to Heroin and Fentanyl Charges

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

BOSTON – A Dominican national pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to supplying heroin and fentanyl to traffickers in Taunton and surrounding communities.

Jonathan Ruiz, 33, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. has not yet scheduled sentencing.

In April 2016, Ruiz was arrested and charged in a superseding indictment along with 25 others, who had been charged the previous October, in connection with a heroin trafficking ring operating primarily in southeastern Massachusetts.  Ruiz trafficked in narcotics from Lawrence, supplying distributers in Taunton, Fall River and other locations. The charges are the result of a 15-month investigation into heroin and fentanyl trafficking in Taunton and surrounding communities, which have seen a steep increase in overdoses and related deaths since 2013.

Ruiz and co-defendants, Dedwin Cruz-Rivera, a heroin supplier based in Taunton, Manuel Romero-Gonsalez, a heroin supplier based in Providence, R.I., and Eric Matos, a heroin and fentanyl supplier based in Lawrence, supplied co-conspirators, Oniel Rivera, Cory Nickerson, and Maria Elena Ocasio, among others, with heroin and occasionally fentanyl for distribution. Ruiz also supplied fentanyl and heroin to Cruz-Rivera.

More than half of the conspirators charged have pleaded guilty, including Matos, Ocasio, and Nickerson, whose sentencings are scheduled throughout June 2017; and eight of the defendants have already been sentenced, including Romero-Gonsalez. Cruz-Rivera pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

The charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and fentanyl provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. Ruiz will be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb and Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division, made the announcement.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas E. Kanwit, Karen Beausey, Katherine Ferguson and Ann Taylor of Weinreb’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the cases.

Updated June 2, 2017

Drug Trafficking