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Press Release

Leominster Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

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

BOSTON – A Leominster man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Worcester in connection with his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Felix Melendez, 41, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15, 2017. Melendez is the final of five co-defendants to plead guilty this month to conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine in Worcester County.

Osvaldo Vasquez, 49, of Worcester; Jose Federico Vasquez, 55, a Dominican national residing in Providence, R.I.; Elvis Genao, 27, of Fitchburg; and Hugo Santana-Dones, a/k/a Raphael Ventura, 43, a Dominican national residing in Leominster, all recently pleaded guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy and will be sentenced in August and September 2017.

In the late summer of 2014, federal agents began investigating narcotics trafficking activities by Osvaldo Vasquez and his associates, Federico Vasquez, Melendez, Genao, and Santana-Dones. Between November 2014 and July 2015, with the help of a cooperating witness, agents made numerous recorded purchases of heroin - sometimes laced with fentanyl - from members of the conspiracy, seizing over 400 grams of heroin as a result. 

During a court-authorized wiretap, Vasquez and his co-defendants were heard discussing the purchase and sale of multiple kilograms of narcotics and demonstrated an awareness of the potential deadly consequences of the narcotics they were distributing. On May 7, 2016, Osvaldo Vasquez, Melendez, and Federico Vasquez were intercepted discussing how the high number of heroin overdose deaths occurring at the time were cutting into their sales.  

In August 2015, federal agents executed a search warrant at the conspirators’ homes. At Osvaldo Vasquez’s home in Worcester, agents found 679 grams of heroin and 723 grams of cocaine, as well as a Taurus PT .380 semi-automatic handgun.  The telephone that was the subject of the wiretap, cutting tools, and over $7,000 in cash was also recovered in the home.  At the residence of Santana-Dones in Leominster, agents found 224 grams of heroin, 110 grams of cocaine, and 8.9 grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine), along with cutting tools, a hydraulic kilogram press, over $1,300 in cash, and two phones that had been intercepted on the wiretap. At the residence of Melendez, who was on parole for state firearm and narcotics charges at the time, 3.1 grams of cocaine, a digital scale, over $1,000 in cash, and a phone that had been intercepted on the wiretap was recovered.  At the residence of Jose Federico Vasquez in Providence, agents found 3.4 grams of cocaine.

Felix Melendez, Jose Federico Vasquez, and Hugo Santana-Dones each face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years up to 40 years in prison, a minimum of four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $5 million. Santana-Dones and Federico Vasquez will be subject to deportation proceedings upon completion of their sentences.  Osvaldo Vasquez faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to a lifetime in prison, a minimum of four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $5 million.  Elvis Genao faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent; Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest F. Martineau; and Leominster Interim Police Chief Michael Goldman, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Grady of Weinreb’s Worcester Branch Office is prosecuting the case.


Updated May 25, 2017

Drug Trafficking