Leader of Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization with Ties to Mexican Cartel Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
BOSTON – A Fitchburg man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Worcester for his role in a wide-ranging fentanyl, heroin, crack and cocaine trafficking conspiracy.
Branny Taveras, 40, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 40 months in prison and two years of supervised release. On March 11, 2022, Taveras pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, 280 grams or more of cocaine base (commonly known as crack cocaine) and 500 grams or more of cocaine.
Following a fatal fentanyl overdose in September 2018, law enforcement began an investigation into a drug trafficking organization (DTO) in the Fitchburg area led by co-conspirators Pedro Baez and Anthony Baez. Beginning in July 2019, electronic communications revealed that Taveras and others in the DTO distributed a fentanyl and heroin mixture on a regular basis to individuals in the Fitchburg area, including to Pedro and Anthony Baez, who redistributed that mixture to others.
Over the course of the investigation, over 1.8 kilograms of a heroin and fentanyl mixture, over 3.6 kilograms of cocaine and over 50 grams of crack cocaine, as well as a stolen, loaded handgun, drug manufacturing equipment and over $376,000 were seized. Taveras was responsible for distributing over 400 grams of a fentanyl and heroin mixture.
Taveras was charged along with 17 others in July 2020. He is the 10th defendant to be sentenced in the case. In December 2020, Anthony Baez was sentenced by Judge Hillman to 13 years in prison and five years of supervised release. On Oct. 24, 2022, a federal jury convicted co-defendant Adiangel Paredes, who is scheduled to be sentenced on March 1, 2023. Three of the remaining defendants, Pedro Baez, Jessica Hughes and Hector Matos have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Commissioner Carol Mici of the Massachusetts Department of Correction; and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today. The Fitchburg Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Lunenburg Police Department also provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea E. Porter of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit prosecuted 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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.