Rhode Island Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Role in Nationwide Conspiracy that Trafficked Drugs Hidden in Toy Trucks, Disney Items and Halloween Decorations
BOSTON – A Lawrence man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to drug trafficking activities involving fentanyl and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Jose Martinez, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Sterns scheduled sentencing for Jan. 6, 2022.
Martinez was arrested in June 2019 after a search of his residence revealed a loaded Kel Tec .566 semi-automatic rifle caliber pistol, a Glock 26 handgun, as well as additional ammunition, a bullet proof vest, an attachment for a firearm and gun oil. In addition, law enforcement found two large plastic bags containing empty capsules, a tray to fill pill capsules, several wet plastic bags in the trash can that contained a white residue, a bottle of lactose and several plastic bags, a digital scale, a money counter, a large quantity of cash and multiple cellphones.
Martinez was charged as part of a coordinated enforcement operation in the Merrimack Valley dubbed “Operation Devil’s Highway.” The operation targeted the distribution of opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, and resulted in charges against a total of 40 people for federal drug offenses, with at least a dozen more individuals facing state charges.
The charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division made the announcement. The Massachusetts State Police and the Lawrence Police Department assisted in this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea Porter of Mendell’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.