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Press Release

15 Individuals Convicted, Sentenced in Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island
Operation Triple Play dismantled a drug trafficking organization that imported significant quantities of heroin and cocaine from Mexico and distributed the drugs in 3 states

PROVIDENCE, RI – The fifteenth and final defendant arrested, charged and convicted for leading or participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy that repeatedly arranged for and supervised multi-kilogram shipments of heroin and cocaine from Mexico to stash houses in Cranston and Woonsocket, R.I., then distributed the drugs to mid-level drug dealers in the greater Providence and greater Boston areas and in Hartford, Conn., was sentenced today in federal court in Providence.

An FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force investigation dubbed “Operation Triple Play,” in reference to three brothers, Juan, Claudio, and Hector Valdez, all Dominican nationals who admitted to running the drug trafficking organization, dismantled the operation that imported substantial quantities of heroin and cocaine from Mexico into Rhode Island.

Juan Valdez, 51, of Milton, Mass., and Claudio Valdez, 46, of Woonsocket, R.I., are currently serving sentences of 20 years in federal prison. Hector Valdez, 45, of Woonsocket, R.I., is serving a sentence of 108 months in federal prison.

In addition to executing fourteen court-authorized searches in three states and arresting fifteen individuals, law enforcement seized nearly 3.5 kilograms of fentanyl, nearly four kilograms of heroin - most of which was laced with fentanyl, more than 1.6 kilograms of cocaine, 142 grams of crack cocaine, more than 137 pounds of cutting agents, $45,500 in cash, and nine vehicles, five of which were found to contain hidden compartments used for the transportation of drugs and money.

Eleven of the “Operation Triple Play” defendants, many who had been living in the United States with stolen identities, including the three brothers who led the drug trafficking organization, have or will face deportation proceedings. According to court records, Juan Valdez was previously deported from the United States on four occasions. Claudio and Hector were previously deported one occasion.           

The conclusion of these cases brought in U.S. District Court in Providence as the result of Operation Triple Play is announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta.

“This investigation by a team of hard working, relentless members of law enforcement under the direction of the Rhode Island FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force drove a spike through the heart of a significant drug trafficking organization and put them out of business. An equally committed team of prosecutors ensured that each and every defendant arrested and charged was held accountable for their actions,” said United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman. “This office and law enforcement remain committed to working together to provide the personnel and the resources necessary to disrupt and dismantle criminal drug trafficking organizations that destroy so many lives.”

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division added, “It’s a good day when 15 drug traffickers are taken off the streets, and their drug trafficking organization is dismantled. This case shows how drug cartels based in foreign countries will go anywhere to distribute their deadly products, threatening the safety and stability of our neighborhoods. The FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively track down others like them who are recklessly poisoning our communities with  illegal drugs, bringing nothing but danger—and in far too many cases death—to our cities.”

Operation Triple Play was an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation initiated by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force. Under the direction of the FBI, the participating agencies in this investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration (Providence and Boston Resident Agencies); Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Rhode Island State Police; Providence Police Department; Woonsocket Police Department; Central Falls Police Department; Cranston Police Department; Warwick Police Department; and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.

United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta thank the U.S. Department of State and United States Attorney’s Offices in the District of Massachusetts and the District of Connecticut for their assistance in the investigation of this matter. They also acknowledge and thank the DEA for their financial and technical support during Operation Triple Play.

The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorneys William J. Ferland and Ronald A. Gendron.



Jim Martin
(401) 490-1092

Updated May 8, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 19-56