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Press Release

Peabody Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Distribute Over Four Kilograms of Fentanyl Pills

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Thousands of pills, $150,000 in cash and pill press found in defendant’s storage unit

BOSTON – A Peabody man has pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston in connection with selling approximately 40,000 fentanyl pills.

Manuel E. Tejeda, 42, pleaded guilty on June 2, 2023 to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Sept. 7, 2023. In January 2020, Tejeda was arrested and charged with co-defendant Jose Esmerlin Diaz. 

In January 2020, Diaz delivered an estimated 13,800 fentanyl pills (weighing approximately 1.6 kilograms) disguised as Percocet 30s to a cooperating source on Jan. 17, 2020, at a price of $6 per pill. Shortly thereafter, Tejeda and another man arrived in the vicinity of the drug transaction to deliver additional pills, and were found in possession of an estimated 27,000 fentanyl pills (weighing approximately 3.1 kilograms). A subsequent search of a storage unit used by Tejeda in Salem resulted in the discovery of approximately two kilograms of suspected fentanyl and/or heroin, $150,000 in cash and an industrial/commercial grade pill press that could be used to press powder-form opiates into pills. Keys located on Tejeda at the time of his arrest opened locks to the storage unit.

On May 23, 2023, Diaz was sentenced to 52 months in prison and two years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy. 

The charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; Peabody Police Chief Thomas M. Griffin; and Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles Dell’Anno, Craig Estes and Kunal Pasricha of Levy’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

Updated June 5, 2023

Drug Trafficking