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Press Release

Twenty-Five Individuals Charged In Southeastern Massachusetts Heroin Ring

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

BOSTON – Twenty-five individuals were indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in connection with a southeastern Massachusetts heroin trafficking ring.  Arrests were made this morning in Fall River, Lawrence, Taunton, Marshfield, New Bedford, Berkley and Providence.

This indictment follows four other recent federal indictments charging 17 individuals in connection with a Taunton heroin distribution network.  All five indictments are part of an ongoing federal effort to stem the tide of heroin and fentanyl in southeastern Massachusetts.

In a related development, Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be addressing Massachusetts doctors and public health officials at a forum on Friday in Waltham on how the misuse of prescription opioids is driving demand for narcotics such as heroin and fentanyl.

The following people were charged in an indictment unsealed today with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including heroin and fentanyl: Dedwin Cruz-Rivera, 39, and Christian Sostre, 21, both of Fall River; Eric Matos, 37, and Miguelina Mejia Ruiz, 41, both of Lawrence; Manuel Romero-Gonsalez, 37, Luz Gonzalez, 33, Francis Gonsalez-Romero, 39, and Maria Elena Ocasio, 55, all of Providence, R.I.; Julio C. Ocasio, 24, Xavier Ramos, 25, Maria Rodriguez, 38, William M. Rodriguez, 22, Lindsay Ann Belisle, 29, Jose O. Perez, 28, Kelly Patterson, 36, Jorge Vega, 40, Jose A. Rodriguez, 40, Oniel Rivera, 28, Christopher Perez, 36, Kelly Jean Gagnon, 39, Joseph W. Parsons, 23, and Philip Malaguti, 31, all of Taunton; Cory S. Nickerson, 31, of New Bedford; Steven M. Enos, 28, of Berkley; and John A. Gray, Jr., 40, of Marshfield.

The investigation revealed that Dedwin Cruz-Rivera was obtaining heroin and fentanyl from multiple wholesale suppliers, including Eric Matos and Manuel Romero-Gonsalez, and was distributing the drugs to Taunton-based dealers, including Maria Rodriguez, her son William Rodriguez, Oniel Rivera, and Xavier Ramos.  Doris Mejia Ruiz delivered fentanyl to Cruz-Rivera at the direction of Matos.

The investigation also revealed that Romero-Gonsalez worked with his associate, Luz Gonzalez, and his brother, Francis Gonsalez-Romero, to distribute narcotics.  Agents repeatedly observed William Rodriguez selling heroin to customers in and around Taunton, including Jose Perez, Kelly Patterson, Jorge Vega, Jose Rodriguez, Christopher Perez, Kelly Jean Gagnon, Joseph Parsons, Philip Malaguti, and John Gray, Jr.  Lyndsay Belisle helped William Rodriguez distribute the drugs.

The investigation led to seizures of heroin and fentanyl.  Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid, which, by weight, is 30-40 times deadlier than heroin.

The indictment was the result of a 15-month investigation that included court-authorized wiretaps and the execution of six search warrants.  The investigation was launched as part of the federal response to the heroin epidemic plaguing Massachusetts, and Taunton in particular, which has seen a steep increase in heroin overdose deaths since 2013.

The charge in today’s case provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, a minimum of three year and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of $1 million.  Cruz-Rivera faces a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to a lifetime in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $10 million.  Gray faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and no greater than 40 years in prison, a minimum of four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $5 million.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; and Taunton Police Chief Edward J. Walsh, made the announcement today.  The investigation was a joint effort by the DEA’s Cape Cod Task Force; the Massachusetts State Police; the Bristol County Sherriff’s Department; the Barnstable, Fall River, Haverhill, Marshfield, Attleboro, Fairhaven, New Bedford, Bridgewater, Norwood, Lawrence, Plymouth, Berkley, Raynham and Providence Police Departments; the Rhode Island State Police; the Bristol, Essex and Plymouth County District Attorney’s Offices; and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Ferguson and Ann Taylor of Ortiz’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit.

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

Updated October 1, 2015