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Press Release

Leader of Lawrence-Based Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty to Heroin, Fentanyl Charges

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

BOSTON – The leader of a Lawrence-based heroin and fentanyl drug trafficking organization pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with orchestrating a wide-ranging operation that distributed multiple kilos of fentanyl and cocaine to customers in Lawrence and surrounding areas – including New Hampshire and Maine.

Juan Anibal Patrone, 28, a Dominican national formerly residing in Lawrence, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and 400 grams or more of fentanyl and one count of being an alien in possession of a firearm. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for Jan. 10, 2019. Patrone has been in custody since his arrest in May 2017.

On May 30, 2017, a large scale law enforcement operation dismantled two Lawrence-based drug trafficking organizations, one run by Patrone, and another led by Santo Ramon Gonzalez Nival, who was a source of supply for Patrone. Patrone and approximately 28 co-conspirators were arrested, including Gonzalez Nival and nine members of his drug trafficking organization. Gonzalez Nival previously pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 21, 2018.

Patrone ran his organization like a business. He bought drugs from suppliers, such as co-conspirator Domingo Gonzalez Martinez, who supplied drugs to Patrone out of the Corniel Market in Lawrence. He personally paid rent for stash houses, including 277 Merrimack Street and 20 Cambridge Street in Lawrence, and paid his brother, Josuel Moises Patrone-Gonzalez, and Oscar Marcano, to prepare and package drugs in those stash houses. He ran a crew of couriers, including some who worked in cars, like Luis Lugo and Leonel Vives, and others who walked the street, such as Daniel Diaz and Andruery Fanas Burgos, telling them specifically where to go and who to see. Similarly, Patrone personally directed his redistributors where to go to purchase narcotics to distribute, including Matthew Shover, Stacey Littlefield, Lacey Picariello, Reynaldo Duran Lora, and Rafael Arce – some of whom came from New Hampshire and Maine to obtain drugs to redistribute outside of Massachusetts. Patrone also paid Euclides Alcantara to register and insure his fleet of vehicles in false names, and to carry drug proceeds to the Dominican Republic.

In addition, Patrone openly discussed the size of his drug business with others, including family. In intercepted calls, he admitted that he had worked in the business for seven years and wanted to return to the Dominican Republic, where he planned to get out of the drug business and live well. Investigators learned from these calls that Patrone’s assets are primarily in the Dominican Republic, and the government has undertaken efforts to freeze and forfeit them as part of his sentence in this case. 

Furthermore, during a search of Patrone’s home, agents found a 10mm Auto-Ordnance Corp, loaded with a magazine containing six 10mm rounds of ammunition.

In addition to yesterday’s plea, a member of the Nival Gonzalez organization was sentenced in federal court.

Bernaldo Rosario Santiago, 27, of Puerto Rica, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to five years in prison, four years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit approximately $18,000. In June 2018, Santiago was convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and at least 40 grams of fentanyl. Santiago was a redistributor for the Nival Gonzalez organization.

Patrone faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, a fine of up to $10 million, and will be subject to deportation proceedings. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Division; and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. The Massachusetts State Police and the Andover, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, and Wilmington Police Departments assisted with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Winkler of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the cases.

Updated September 20, 2018

Drug Trafficking