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Press Release

Gang Member Sentenced for Kidnapping and Drug Conspiracy

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

BOSTON – A North Andover man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for conspiring to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the Essex County Jail.

Steven Rios, 25, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani to eight years in prison and three years of supervised release. In October 2022, Rios pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to distribute Suboxone. 

Rios was charged in November 2021 along with 12 others in connection with a large drug conspiracy centering around the Gangster Disciples in Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen. The investigation, which began in August 2020, intercepted communications between Gangster Disciples’ leaders, members and drug suppliers pertaining to their alleged distribution of fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and Suboxone in Massachusetts, Maine and southern New Hampshire as well as into the Essex County Jail. The investigation intercepted phone calls between Rios and other gang members, who conspired to kidnap and assault a marijuana supplier from Maine. The dispute originated from an alleged drug debt and suspicions that the drug supplier had stolen one of Rios’s breeding dogs. Following related search warrants, Rios was again intercepted in phone calls planning to smuggle Suboxone into the Essex County Jail when he was arrested. Jail officials were able to screen Rios, who had attempted to smuggle drugs into the jail by swallowing them. After several days at the hospital, jail officials seized Suboxone from Rios. 

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip C. Cheng of Rollins’ Organized Crime & Gang 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

This case is also a part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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 March 20, 2023

Drug Trafficking