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Press Release

Nine Men Charged with Distributing Drugs in Bristol County

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

BOSTON – Nine men have been charged in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with distributing heroin and cocaine in the Bristol County area.

Six men from southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island were charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, and three New Bedford residents, in a separate but related criminal complaint, were charged with conspiring to distribute heroin.   Six defendants were arrested this morning will appear in U.S. District Court in Boston later this afternoon.  Three defendants remain fugitives from justice.

According to court documents, Luis Lopez was the head of a drug trafficking organization that imported large quantities of cocaine from Puerto Rico to New Bedford and Fall River. Another defendant coordinated the shipments of cocaine through the U.S. Mail with the assistance of Chindy Diaz, who received cocaine-filled packages on Lopez’s behalf and delivered it to Lopez at his Fall River residence.   Israel Santiago also allegedly helped coordinate the receipt of cocaine on behalf of Lopez.  Lopez then sold the cocaine to other drug dealers, including Tyson Britto.  During the course of the investigation, federal agents intercepted at least three cocaine-filled packages bound for Lopez. 

In a related investigation, federal agents learned that Sharik Mendes, who owns and operates the HEART gym in New Bedford, was allegedly receiving large quantities of heroin from at least two suppliers based in Providence.  It is alleged that Mendes employed Tyson Depina to distribute the heroin on his behalf.  Intercepted phone calls showed that Depina was consistently selling heroin to users and lower-level dealers, and that he was providing Mendes with $1,000 to $2,000 a day for this heroin.  In April 2016, Depina was arrested for possessing heroin which he attempted to destroy incident to his arrest.  In addition, it is alleged that Depina was also supplied heroin by another defendant, who was distributing it on behalf of a higher-level drug dealer. 

The following defendants are charged in a federal criminal complaint with:

Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine:

1)   Luis Lopez, a/k/a “Juan Gonzalez,” 43, of Tiverton, R.I. and Fall River;

3)   Chindy Diaz, 38, of New Bedford;

5)   Tyson Britto, a/k/a “Peanut,” 31, of Fall River; and,

6)   Israel Santiago, a/k/a “Reysito,” 39, of Fall River.  

The following defendants are charged in a related federal criminal complaint with:

Conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin:

1)   Sharik Mendes, 39, of New Bedford; and

2)   Tyson Depina, a/k/a “Tru,” 40, of New Bedford.

The charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine provide a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $1 million.   Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter; 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; Fall River Police Chief John M Souza; New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro; Fairhaven Police Chief Michael Myers; and Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, made the announcement today.  The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen of Ortiz’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit. 

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated June 30, 2016

Drug Trafficking