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Press Release

Leader of Lawrence-Based Fentanyl, Heroin Trafficking Organization Sentenced to 135 Months in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant admitted to being deported four times

BOSTON – The former leader of a Lawrence-based opioid trafficking organization was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine conspiracy.

Santo Ramon Gonzalez Nival, 41, a Dominican national formerly residing in Lawrence, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to 135 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Gonzalez Nival will be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence. In June 2018, Gonzalez Nival pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl and one count of illegal reentry of a deported alien.

On May 30, 2017, a large scale law enforcement operation dismantled two Lawrence-based drug trafficking organizations, one run by Juan Anibal Patrone, and another led by Gonzalez Nival, who was a source of supply for Patrone. Gonzalez Nival and approximately 28 co-conspirators were arrested, including nine members of his drug trafficking organization. 

During the course of the investigation, over 500 grams of fentanyl were seized in connection with the Gonzalez Nival organization. During a wiretap, law enforcement intercepted Gonzalez Nival talking to one of his suppliers, Santo Ramon Nivar, about a “blue one” - believed to be fentanyl - that “was killing people.” Gonzalez Nival discussed wanting more of that fentanyl because his customers liked the strength and it could be cut multiple times, which meant more profit for him.

At the time of his arrest, Gonzalez Nival was illegally in the United States, having reentered after being deported most recently on May 19, 2009. During the investigation, Gonzalez Nival fled after being stopped by police when they took his false identification card to run it. In a subsequent intercepted call, Gonzalez Nival admitted to having been deported from the United States four times previously, and explained that he ran to avoid detectives who might fingerprint him.

Gonzalez Nival and the nine members of his organization have all been convicted: two sources of supply, Robert Frett Sierra and Santo Ramon Nivar; a drug preparer, Julio Baez Gonzalez; two couriers, Geronimo Gonfessor Gonzalez Nivar and Ruddy Rafael Soto Lara; and four redistributors, Bernaldo Rosario Santiago, Carlos Hernandez, Rory Connolly, and Diosmary Burgos.

Patrone pleaded guilty on Sept. 19, 2018, and is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2019.  

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 21, 2018

Drug Trafficking