Skip to main content
Press Release

Dominican National Illegally in the United States Sentenced to More Than Five Years in Federal Prison for Selling Heroin in Cecil County, Maryland

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Defendant was the Last of Four Men Convicted and Sentenced for Their Roles in a Heroin Trafficking Organization

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett today sentenced Ivanovich Constanzo Mercedes-Soriano, a/k/a German Pena-Lopez, age 31, of Aberdeen, Maryland, to 63 months in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine and for making a false claim to U.S. citizenship.  

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Acting Superintendent of the Maryland State Police (MSP).

According to his plea agreement, Mercedes-Soriano was born in the Dominican Republic and is illegally in the United States. At least as early as June 2017 and continuing until September 26, 2018, Mercedes-Soriano conspired with Elvin Solano-Pena, a/k/a Joseph Allen Fields, and Herme Soriano, a/k/a Miguel Urraca-Gonzalez, and others to distribute crack cocaine and 1000 grams or more of heroin to drug users that lived primarily in Cecil County, Maryland. 

In July 16, 2018, Maryland State Police (MSP) developed information that drug users were using a designated phone number, referred to as the “dispatch phone,” to purchase drugs. On July 23, 2018, a drug user called the dispatch phone and spoke to a man who told the customer to meet him at a grocery store in Elkton.  Mercedes-Soriano arrived in a black Honda Civic and sold the customer one gram of heroin and .4 grams of crack cocaine.   

On August 3, 2018, the same drug user called the dispatch phone and spoke to Solano-Pena.  After the call, Soriano arrived at the agreed meeting place and sold the customer .6 gram of heroin and .6 gram of crack cocaine.  MSP stopped the vehicle; Soriano was driving, and MSP identified him as the man who sold the drugs.  After searching the car, MSP recovered another .4 gram of heroin and $648 in cash, as well as a crack pipe and burnt cocaine.  Soriano provided a false name at the time.  MSP used social media to attempt to identify him and found pictures of Soriano with Mercedes-Soriano.  The two men were later identified as brothers.

Mercedes-Soriano and Soriano were illegal aliens using fraudulently obtained driver’s licenses in their respective alias names.  On September 6, 2018, both men were taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) following a traffic stop of the black Honda Civic they were driving.  Both men produced fraudulent documents and lied as to their identity, citizenship, and travel to the United States.  Both Mercedes-Soriano and Soriano were interviewed by ICE officers after being advised of their rights in Spanish and falsely swore that they were U.S. citizens, born in Puerto Rico.  In fact, both men are citizens of the Dominican Republic.

A towing company retrieved the black Honda Civic and stored it in Cecil County.  The car was registered in the name of co-defendant Oscar Pilarte-Rivera, a close friend of Mercedes-Soriano, Solano-Pena, and Soriano.  Pilarte-Rivera provided assistance to the drug dealers, among other things, by allowing them to use a car registered in his name, knowing the men were involved in drug trafficking.  Pilarte claimed possession of the black Honda from police custody.

On September 25, 2018, Mercedes-Soriano called Pilarte-Rivera from jail.  The call was in Spanish but Mercedes-Soriano indicated he had tried to call Pilarte-Rivera three times but that he had not answered the phone.  The men discussed items in Mercedes-Soriano’s apartment that needed to be picked up.  As a result, HSI obtained a federal search warrant for Mercedes-Soriano’s apartment on Stevens Circle in Aberdeen, Maryland and executed it on September 26, 2018.  In addition to identity documents for Mercedes-Soriano and other records, law enforcement recovered drugs packaged for distribution.  After laboratory testing, it was determined the drugs seized included approximately 160 grams of heroin, 222 grams of heroin and fentanyl, and approximately 32 grams of crack cocaine.  The packaging tested positive for Mercedes-Soriano’s DNA.   

In his plea agreement, Mercedes-Soriano admitted he sold between one and three kilograms of heroin.  Mercedes-Soriano’s phone records reflect the frequency of calls with drug customers and corroborated their individual testimony about drug sales.

As part of his plea agreement and sentence, Mercedes-Soriano will be deported to the Dominican Republic upon his release from prison.

Pilarte-Rivara, Solano-Pena, and Soriano previously pleaded guilty to federal charges for their respective roles in the drug conspiracy and received sentences ranging from time served to four years in federal prison.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the HSI Baltimore and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation and thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement Removal Operations for its assistance.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and Paul Riley, who prosecuted the case.

# # #


Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated February 28, 2020

Drug Trafficking