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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Hampshire

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lawrence Man Pleads Guilty To Heroin And Fentanyl Distribution Conspiracy

            CONCORD, N.H. – Jose Casellas, 39, a citizen of the Dominican Republic most recently residing in Lawrence, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire to a federal indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl, announced United States Attorney Emily Gray Rice. 

            According to court documents, the defendant was arrested while attempting to deliver approximately three kilograms of fentanyl to a confidential informant. A search of Casellas’s residence resulted in the seizure of $12,000, a holster, and some ammunition. Through additional investigation, law enforcement obtained the address of a stash house and processing mill used by the defendant. Law enforcement officers then obtained a search warrant for the address and found approximately 898 grams of heroin, one kilogram of fentanyl, nine kilograms of a cutting agent, and three firearms. The stash house was used primarily for preparing drugs as it contained kilogram and finger presses, numerous blenders, cutting agents, and a ventilation system. The doors and windows were fortified. The defendant sold drugs that were ultimately distributed in New Hampshire since at least 2014.

            Casellas’s plea agreement includes a binding stipulated sentence of 204 months in prison. It also provides for the forfeiture of any property constituting or derived from the conspiracy. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for January 12, 2017, in front of United States District Judge Landya B. McCafferty. At that time, the Court will decide whether to accept the plea agreement and impose the agreed-upon period of incarceration, as well as any other conditions of Casellas’s sentence.    

            “Prosecuting those individuals who introduce heroin and fentanyl into New Hampshire is a priority of my office,” stated United States Attorney Emily Gray Rice. “This case is an example of a very successful collaboration between local, state, and federal law enforcement partners across state lines. I commend the Manchester Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the DEA for their tireless efforts and cooperation on this case.”

            According to statistics maintained by the State of New Hampshire, over half of the drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2015 were related to fentanyl. Because a single gram of heroin or fentanyl can be used to create multiple individual dosage units that can be sold “on the street,” the quantity of fentanyl involved in this case could have generated hundreds of individual doses of fentanyl, each of which had the potential to cause a fatal overdose.

            “Opiate abuse is at epidemic levels in New Hampshire and throughout New England,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “Fentanyl is causing overdose deaths across the Granite State, and DEA is committed to aggressively pursue trafficking organizations or individuals who are coming from out of state to distribute fentanyl to areas of New Hampshire in order to profit and destroy people’s lives, and wreak havoc in our communities. This investigation demonstrates the strength and continued commitment of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners.”

            This case was supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The case was investigated by the Manchester Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Georgiana L. Konesky and Donald Feith.

Drug Trafficking
Updated September 29, 2016