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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 21, 2022

Holyoke Man Pleads Guilty to Fentanyl Conspiracy

Assault rifle, five semi-automatic pistols and bullet-proof vest, among other things seized from defendant’s residence

BOSTON – A Holyoke man associated with the CJNG (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion) drug cartel has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges involving fentanyl.

Josue Rivera Rodriguez, a/k/a “Bori,” 45, pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, 2022 to one count of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, two counts of distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl and one count of distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Feb. 6, 2023. Rodriguez was arrested and charged in April 2021.

“The CJNG cartel is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in Mexico. Mr. Rodriguez conspired to bring CJNG’s violent drug trafficking operations into our Commonwealth. Because of the exceptional work of our law enforcement partners, he failed,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Not only did he distribute considerable quantities of fentanyl on behalf of the cartel into our communities, agents also seized deadly firearms from his home – including a fully automatic AR-15 machinegun and several handguns fitted with laser sight. These weapons are far too excessive and powerful for any claim of self-defense. They are designed for destruction and harm. Stopping the flow of illegal narcotics from entering into our communities remains the most critical step in combating violent criminal activity directly at its source.”

"Josue Rivera Rodriguez trafficked deadly fentanyl all over Massachusetts including Watertown, Revere, Holyoke, and Springfield for one of the largest and most violent transnational criminal organizations operating in Mexico and the United States. Equally troubling is what we found when we took him into custody— a cache of high-powered weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle, a bullet proof vest, and even a police hat with insignia,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “This case illustrates the FBI’s commitment to removing large-scale drug traffickers like Rodriguez who are a clear and present danger to our communities from our streets before they can ruin any more lives.”

“DEA is committed to investigating those involved with drug trafficking in Massachusetts,” said Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division. “As we all know, drug trafficking in our communities, along with the gun and physical violence that often accompanies it, is a serious threat to our families and communities.  This is unacceptable and will not be allowed to happen.  DEA and its local, state and federal partners are dedicated to bringing to justice those that commit these crimes.”

Rodriguez was recorded delivering $35,000 to a cooperating witness and using a code indicating that the money was intended for the CJNG cartel. Thereafter, on three occasions in 2020 and 2021, Rodriquez was recorded distributing over 750 grams of fentanyl to the cooperating witness.

At the time of his arrest in April 2021, approximately 300 grams of fentanyl; an AR-15 assault rifle; five semi-automatic pistols, including handguns capable of carrying large-caliber ammunition and fitted with a laser sight; a bullet-proof vest; a police hat with insignia; packaging materials; cellphones; a money counter; and $1,900 cash was seized from Rodriguez’s residence.

The charges of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl provide for a sentence of at least 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. The charge of distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years 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.

U.S. Attorney Rollins, FBI SAC Bonavolonta, DEA SAC Boyle and Holyoke Police Chief Manny Febbo made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Pohl of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit is 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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated November 21, 2022