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Press Release

Armed Fentanyl Dealer Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – A Central Falls fentanyl street dealer who claimed he armed himself with a loaded firearm for “protection” was sentenced on Friday to 72 months in federal prison.

On at least three occasions in late January 2018, Dennis Rivera, 32, sold an individual varying amounts of fentanyl during a Central Falls Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) joint Project Safe Neighborhoods investigation into Rivera’s drug trafficking activities.

Rivera was arrested on February 3, 2018, as law enforcement executed a court-authorized search of his residence and seized, among other items, a loaded 22 caliber revolver, 11 grams of cocaine, 21 grams of fentanyl, and various items used in the packaging and distribution of drugs. Rivera told law enforcement that he kept the loaded gun for “protection.”

United States Attorney Aaron Weisman commented, “Selling fentanyl poisons our neighborhoods and puts drug users lives at risk. Having a gun ‘for protection’ puts everyone in the neighborhood at risk. The defendant’s six-year sentence should sound a warning to others that law enforcement and prosecutors will not tolerate drug dealers poisoning our neighborhoods, particularly armed drug dealers who put everyone’s life in danger.”

Rivera pleaded guilty on April 9, 2019, to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and two counts felon in possession of a firearm. 

At the time of his arrest, Rivera was awaiting trial in Rhode Island state court on an unrelated firearm charge. Rivera was arrested by Central Falls Police in June 2017 following an altercation with another person. As officers approached the two men, Rivera stashed a semi-automatic pistol near the bumper of a nearby car, then quickly walked away. The firearm was retrieved by police and Rivera was found hiding in the bathroom of a stranger’s apartment nearby.

Additionally, Rivera had previously been convicted of drug trafficking in Massachusetts.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith sentenced River to 72 months in federal prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Central Falls Police Chief Colonel Daniel J.  Barzykowski commented, “We will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to ensure offenders that poison our communities, like Rivera, are removed from the streets.”

Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Division of ATF Kelly D. Brady added, “ATF will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement counterparts to vigorously combat drug traffickers and the threat they pose to our citizens by illegally possessing firearms in furtherance of their illegal drug trade.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald R. Gendron and Ly T. Chin.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.



Jim Martin
(401) 709-5357

Updated August 19, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 19-100