New Bedford Man Sentenced for Drug Trafficking
BOSTON – A New Bedford man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston in connection with operating a drug trafficking ring in southeastern Massachusetts.
Israel Santiago, a/k/a “Reysito,” 39, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Rya W. Zobel to two years in prison and three years of supervised release. In October 2016, Santiago pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. In June 2016, Santiago was arrested and charged along with eight others in connection with distributing cocaine in the Bristol County area.
From 2014 to 2016, co-defendant Luis Lopez was the head of a drug trafficking organization that imported, at a minimum, 50 to100 kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to Massachusetts, and then distributed it in New Bedford and Fall River with co-defendants Chindy Diaz, Israel Santiago, and others. In June 2016, Santiago attempted to receive a package containing one kilogram of cocaine at 24/7 Fitness in New Bedford. Once the package arrived, Santiago was to provide the cocaine to Lopez; however, unbeknownst to both men, the package had been seized and opened by investigators, who discovered the cocaine. Due to the ongoing investigation, Santiago and Lopez were arrested a few weeks later.
In January 2017, Lopez was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Of the ten defendants charged in connection with this case, nine have pleaded guilty.
United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division; Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Bristol County District Thomas M. Quinn; Fall River Police Chief Daniel S. Racine; New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro; Fairhaven Police Chief Michael Myers; and Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen of Weinreb’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the cases.