Rhode Island Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Role in Nationwide Conspiracy that Trafficked Drugs Hidden in Toy Trucks, Disney Items and Halloween Decorations
BOSTON – A Norwood man was convicted yesterday in federal court in Boston of distributing heroin in the Taunton area.
Oristel Soto-Peguero, 25, was convicted by a federal jury of possession with intent to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin, conspiring to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a drug offense. U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for Aug. 2, 2018.
In early 2015, federal agents conducted a wiretap investigation of Eddyberto Mejia-Ramos, a regional heroin trafficker operating in Taunton. In May and June, agents identified Soto-Peguero as Mejia-Ramos’ primary source of supply. On July 6, 2015, law enforcement intercepted calls in which Mejia-Ramos asked Soto-Peguero to send him something “heavy,” to which Soto-Peguero responded that his girlfriend was on her way. At that time, agents were conducting surveillance outside Soto-Peguero’s Norwood apartment and observed co-conspirator Mercedes Cabral exit the apartment and drive towards Taunton. During a subsequent traffic stop, officers found 10 blocks of heroin (918 grams) protruding from Cabral’s purse.
After seizing the heroin, law enforcement officers attempted to secure Soto-Peguero’s apartment in anticipation of obtaining a federal search warrant. They knocked on the door and announced the presence of police, but no one answered. As officers began a forced entry through the front door, someone inside fired a gunshot through the front door. Fortunately, no one was shot. Officers eventually gained entry and arrested two men, identified as Soto-Peguero and Luis Guzman-Ortiz. The next day, officers executed a search warrant at the home and seized two kilograms of heroin, a loaded semiautomatic pistol, two hydraulic drug presses, and other evidence that showed the apartment was being used to prepare and package heroin. Gunshot residue testing and other evidence established that Soto-Peguero fired the shot through the door.
In September 2016, Mejia-Ramos was sentenced to 90 months in prison. In May 2017, Cabral was sentenced to time served (22 months) and three years of supervised release. Guzman-Ortiz pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial on June 18, 2018.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division, made the announcement. Investigative assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts State Police Criminal Laboratory, the Taunton Police Department, and the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Theodore Heinrich and Brian Pérez-Daple of Lelling’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. Any remaining defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.