Skip to main content
Press Release

New Bedford Woman Sentenced to Prison for Operating Drug Stash House

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

BOSTON – A New Bedford woman was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Boston for stashing drugs in her home for a drug trafficking ring that operated in Bristol County, Mass., and Providence, R.I.


Shirley Vargas, 45, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton to 18 months in prison and one year of supervised release. Shortly before sentencing, Vargas pleaded guilty to maintaining a place for drug purposes.


Vargas admitted that she stored large quantities of narcotics on behalf of Luis Lopez, a Tiverton, R.I.-based drug dealer. During a number of federal searches and arrests in June 2016, federal agents searched Vargas’ New Bedford residence and discovered approximately one kilogram of a fentanyl and acetylfentanyl mix hidden under her bed. In addition, in Vargas’ kitchen pantry, investigators found drug packaging materials, which included a drug press and baggies. Acetylfentanyl is a highly dangerous fentanyl analogue that is generally manufactured in China and imported into the United States.


In imposing the sentence, Judge Gorton acknowledged that although Vargas had no role in distributing the narcotics found in her home, she could be sure that her conduct “contributed” to the “pain and suffering” of drug addicts and their families.


In January 2017, Lopez was sentenced to 15 years in prison.


Acting 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; New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro; and Fall River Police Chief Daniel S. Racine made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric S. Rosen of Weinreb’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.


Updated February 28, 2017

Drug Trafficking