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Press Release

Three Men Plead Guilty to Federal Charges Related to Dealing Drugs—Including Fentanyl, Heroin, and Cocaine—In Cecil County, Maryland

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Two of the Defendants Admitted that they are Dominican Nationals Illegally in the United States

Baltimore, Maryland – Three men pleaded guilty to federal charges for their roles in a drug distribution conspiracy that operated in Cecil County, Maryland.  The following defendants pleaded guilty:

            Oscar O. Pilarte-Rivera, age 36, of Baltimore;
            Elvin Solano-Pena, a/k/a Joseph Allen Fields and Jose, age 37;
            Herme Soriano, a/k/a Miguel Urraca-Gonzalez, age 21.

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police (MSP).

According to their plea agreements, beginning in at least June 2017 and continuing through September 26, 2018, Solano-Pena, and Soriano conspired with others to distribute heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and crack cocaine to drug users living primarily in Cecil County.  Witnesses advised law enforcement that they purchased narcotics from the conspirators by calling a designated phone number (the dispatch phone).  Solano-Pena was the primary user and possessor of the dispatch phone.  Drug users would call the number and place an order for drugs.  Solano-Pena or another conspirator would then arrange a meeting place.  Solano-Pena, Soriano, or a co-conspirator would arrive at the meeting location and provide the drugs in exchange for cash.

On September 5, 2018, Soriano and a co-conspirator were arrested.  Soriano lied to police as to his identity, claiming to be a U.S. Citizen born in Puerto Rico and providing a fraudulently obtained driver’s license using his alias (Miguel Urraca).  The car that they were driving, a black Honda Civic, had previously been used during drug transactions that were observed by law enforcement.  The vehicle was towed to Cecil County.  The car was registered in the name of Pilarte-Rivera, who admitted that he 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-Rivera claimed possession of the black Honda from police custody.

Federal investigators obtained a search warrant for a co-conspirator’s residence in Aberdeen that was executed on September 26, 2018, and recovered over 160 grams of heroin, a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, and crack cocaine packaged for sale.  Shortly before the execution of the warrant, investigators observed Pilarte-Rivera driving the black Honda Civic in front of the leasing office.   Investigators proceeded to the leasing office in an attempt to identify all occupants utilizing the vehicle and encountered Pilarte-Rivera and Solano-Pena.  When questioned by investigators, Solano-Pena falsely identified himself as Joseph Allen Fields.  Pilarte-Rivera is a naturalized U.S. citizen, also born in the Dominican Republic. According to his plea agreement, during the events charged in his case, Pilarte-Rivera had an application pending to be a Baltimore City police officer.

Investigators asked the men about the vehicle and the reason for attempting to obtain entry to the co-conspirator’s apartment.  Both Pilarte-Rivera and Solano-Pena claimed to have arrived at the apartment to pick up some items for a friend whom they identified by an alias.  Pilarte-Rivera provided a Maryland driver’s license and told officers he had obtained a power of attorney from the co-conspirator in order to enter the apartment and gather some birth certificates for him that he needed.   The power of attorney was fraudulently notarized.  According to the plea agreements, both men knew there were drugs inside the apartment.

As detailed in his plea agreement, Solano-Pena began to actively resist officers, made an unsuccessful attempt to run, and was quickly subdued by officers.  Solano-Pena was fingerprinted and the information yielded prior removals from the United States, his true name (Elvin Solano-Pena) and previous criminal history.  

Pilarte-Rivera gave MSP consent to search the black Honda Civic after a canine alerted on the vehicle for the presence of drugs.  MSP officers recovered the dispatch phone described above on the driver’s seat.

Solano-Pena pled guilty to a narcotics charge carrying a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.   Soriano pled guilty to distribution of heroin and cocaine and faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.  Both defendants also pled guilty to immigration crimes related to their illegal status in the United States.  Pilarte-Rivera pled guilty to using a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 4 years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Solano-Pena and Soriano for October 25, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., respectively.  Judge Bennett scheduled Pilarte River’s sentencing for October 18, 2018 at 2:30 p.m.

The fourth charged defendant, Ivanovich Mercedes-Soriano, is scheduled for trial on August 26, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. 

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 are prosecuting the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated July 29, 2019

Drug Trafficking