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Press Release

Philadelphia Man Admits Role in Fentanyl Distribution Conspiracy

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

CAMDEN, N.J. – A Philadelphia man today admitted his role in a fentanyl distribution conspiracy, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced. 

Ronal Alberto Hernandez Pinales, 26, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to an information charging him with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. 

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In early 2020, Hernandez Pinales and his conspirator, Jonathan Rivera Pagan, met and communicated about fentanyl trafficking and firearms. On March 2, 2020, Rivera Pagan and Hernandez Pinales arranged to deliver fentanyl to another individual. Hernandez Pinales and Rivera Pagan drove separately to a parking lot of a building in Gloucester County to conduct the planned fentanyl transaction. Shortly thereafter, both Hernandez Pinales and Rivera Pagan fled from the parking lot, after seeing what they believed to be law enforcement presence in the area.  Rivera Pagan was later arrested in the parking lot of a nearby bar, and Hernandez Pinales was later arrested near a highway. Law enforcement officers recovered approximately 900 grams of fentanyl from Hernandez Pinales’ car, as well as cellphones from Rivera Pagan and Hernandez Pinales that contained drug-related communications.

The charge to which Hernandez Pinales pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Sentencing is scheduled for June 9, 2021.

Rivera Pagan previously pleaded guilty to his role in the fentanyl conspiracy and his sentencing is scheduled for April 1, 2021. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents and task force officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the New Jersey State Police, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and the East Greenwich Police Department for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara A. Aliabadi of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

Updated February 4, 2021

Press Release Number: 21-049