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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 25, 2019

Holyoke Operation Results in Arrest of 42 Individuals

BOSTON – 42 individuals have been charged with federal drug and firearm offenses as part of a  coordinated enforcement operation in the City of Holyoke dubbed “Operation Open Air.”  

The enforcement operation, which took place during October, was a coordinated effort by federal, state and local partners to focus on drug distribution activity in the City of Holyoke. The operation targeted the distribution of opioids, including heroin, and resulted in charges against a total of 17 people for federal drug offenses and an additional 25 for state firearms and drug offenses.

“These defendants sold heroin and fentanyl so they could profit from a crisis that is killing about 2000 Massachusetts residents a year,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “During this operation, law enforcement targeted and dismantled illegal drug markets operating in plain sight. Thanks to the coordinated partnership of local, state and federal law enforcement, dangerous drugs have been removed from the streets and Holyoke and surrounding communities are safer for all residents.”

“The catastrophic abuse of opioids is filling emergency rooms and graveyards. ‘Operation Open Air’ was carried out to temper future casualties of this crisis in the Pioneer Valley by shutting down the open peddling of deadly drugs in public spaces,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners take pride in having struck one more serious blow to ruthless traffickers preying on our vulnerable neighbors.”

The majority of criminal charges resulted from “sweeps” in the City of Holyoke that targeted individuals distributing opioids in open, public spaces. The enforcement actions brought together federal, state and local officers from Western Massachusetts to conduct surveillance, investigate and arrest defendants.

The following defendants were arrested on federal charges:

  1. Dennis Roman, 34, of Holyoke, conspiracy to distribute heroin and distribution of heroin;
  2. Ronny Authier, 21, of Holyoke, distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin;
  3. Christopher Lebron, 31, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin;
  4. Alexis Santana, 18, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin;
  5. Jayson Quinones, 35, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin; 
  6. Herman Gomez, 20, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin;
  7. Joevani Pagan, 28, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin;
  8. Alexis Tapia, 34, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin and cocaine;
  9. Juan Rivera-Velez, distribution of heroin;
  10. Milagros Gaetan, 50, distribution of heroin;
  11. Jose Cruz, 42, distribution of cocaine;
  12. Jeffrey Caride, 38, of  Holyoke, distribution of heroin;
  13. Miquiana Laboy, 22, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin and cocaine;
  14. Gilbert Ramos, 25, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin;
  15. Manuel Sanchez, 26, of Holyoke, distribution of heroin;
  16. Pedro Rivas-Morales, 21, of Holyoke, distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin; and
  17. Roberto Santiago; 44, of Holyoke, distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

 

The charge of drug distribution provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a $1 million fine. The charge of conspiracy to distribute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Lelling; Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni; FBI SAC Bonavolonta; Kelly Brady, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division; Jason Molina, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Holyoke Police Chief Manuel Febo made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the FBI’s Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force and the Holyoke Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd Newhouse, Neil Desroches, Christopher Morgan, and Catherine Curley of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office are prosecuting the case.

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

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated November 25, 2019