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Press Release

Taunton Man Pleads Guilty to Heroin Trafficking

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

BOSTON – A Taunton man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to trafficking heroin and fentanyl in southeastern Massachusetts.

Oniel Rivera, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. has not yet scheduled sentencing.

In October 2015, Rivera was arrested and charged along with 24 others in connection with a heroin trafficking ring operating in southeastern Massachusetts; an April 2016 superseding indictment brought the number of defendants charged in the case to 26.  These charges are the result of a 15-month investigation into heroin and fentanyl trafficking in Taunton and surrounding communities, which have seen a steep increase in opioid related deaths since 2013. 

Rivera received heroin and fentanyl from co-defendant Dedwin Cruz-Rivera, who received the drugs from three other co-defendants, Eric Matos, a former heroin and fentanyl supplier based in Lawrence, Manuel Romero-Gonsalez, a former heroin supplier based in Providence, R.I., and Jonathan Ruiz, a former Lawrence drug supplier, among others. Rivera would then distribute the drugs to customers in and around Taunton.

20 of the 26 defendants charged in the superseding indictment have pleaded guilty including Matos, whose sentencing is scheduled for June, 8, 2017, and Romero-Gonsalez, who was sentenced to 66 months in prison and will be subject to deportation hearings upon completion of his sentence. Cruz-Rivera pleaded not guilty; his trial is scheduled for June 12, 2017.

The charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and fentanyl provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb and Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas E. Kanwit, Karen Beausey, Katherine Ferguson and Ann Taylor of Weinreb’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the cases.

Updated May 23, 2017

Drug Trafficking