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Press Release

Armed Fentanyl Trafficker Pleads Guilty

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

PROVIDENCE – A Central Falls resident previously convicted for drug trafficking in Massachusetts today pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence to charges that he trafficked fentanyl from his Central Falls apartment and that he was a felon in possession of two firearms, one of which he said he obtained for “protection” for his drug trafficking activities.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, Dennis Rivera, 31, pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and two counts of possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

Rivera’s guilty plea is announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Central Falls Police Chief Colonel James J. Mendonca, and Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Kelly D. Brady.

According to information presented to the Court, in late January 2018, a Central Falls Police Department and ATF Project Safe Neighborhoods investigation into Rivera’s drug trafficking activities included at least three law enforcement controlled purchases of fentanyl from Rivera. The investigation also determined that Rivera had told others that he possessed a firearm for “protection.”

On February 3, 2018, law enforcement executed a court-authorized search of Rivera’s residence and seized, among other items, a .22 caliber revolver, 11grams of cocaine, 21grams of fentanyl, and various items used in the packaging and distribution of drugs.

At the time of Rivera’s arrest on February 3, 2018, he 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.

Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on August 16, 2019. According to a plea agreement filed in this matter, at the time of sentencing the Government and the defendant will jointly recommend the Court impose a term of incarceration of 72 months in federal prison. 

The case is being 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 April 9, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Press Release Number: 19-39