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Press Release

Jury Convicts Lowell Man of Heroin and Fentanyl Conspiracy

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

BOSTON – A Lowell man was found guilty today by a federal jury in Boston of conspiring with others in the Lawrence and Lowell areas to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl. 

Bernaldo Rosario Santiago, a/k/a Bori, 27, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and at least 40 grams of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled sentencing for Sept. 19, 2018.

On May 30, 2017, a large scale law enforcement operation dismantled two Lawrence-based drug trafficking organizations, one allegedly run by Juan Anibal Patrone, and another allegedly led by Ramon Gonzalez Nival, who was allegedly a source of supply for Patrone. Santiago was arrested and charged along with Patrone, Gonzalez Nival, and 30 co-conspirators.

According to the evidence at trial, Santiago was a redistributor for the organization and dealt in large quantities of fentanyl, which he acquired from Gonzalez Nival and others. On March 1, 2017, Santiago was stopped in Dracut carrying 89 grams of fentanyl in his pocket. In addition, Santiago was intercepted on court authorized wiretaps discussing drug transactions, including the need to “give it more of the…the fentanyl stuff so that those [expletive] fall asleep.” During the investigation, law enforcement extracted text messages with alleged drug customers from Santiago’s phone, including one text sent to Santiago that read, “Are you coming I’m sick from not doing it.”

Gonzalez Nival pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 5, 2018. Patrone has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in October 2018.

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 40 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing fentanyl is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $50 million, and forfeiture of any proceeds of the offense or property that facilitated the offense. 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Division; Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Lawrence Police Chief Roy P. Vasque; and Lowell Police Acting Superintendent Jonathan C. Webb made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan G. Winkler of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit and David G. Lazarus, Chief of Lelling’s Asset Forfeiture Unit prosecuted the cases.

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

Updated June 13, 2018

Drug Trafficking