PROVIDENCE – A Dominican national previously deported in 2004 following his conviction and incarceration on drug trafficking charges was sentenced on Monday to ten years in federal prison on illegal reentry, drug trafficking, and firearm charges, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
Stevens Morales Rivera, 47, was arrested by members of the Rhode Island DEA Drug Task Force in October 2021, following a Project Safe Neighborhoods investigation into his renewed drug trafficking activity. A court-authorized search of the defendant’s residence at the time of his arrest yielded 13 pounds (6.53 kilograms) of cocaine; 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of fentanyl; a 25 caliber, semi-automatic handgun; a pill press; and $8,995 in cash. The drugs and firearm were located unsecured and easily accessible in a bedroom adjacent to a room where two small children were present when law enforcement entered the residence.
At the time of his arrest, Morales Rivera was found to have fingerprints on file with law enforcement under a different name. He was also found to have criminal records under two names, including a conviction in Massachusetts for trafficking cocaine, and he had previously been deported and reentered the United States illegally.
Morales Rivera pleaded guilty on April 7, 2022, to possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute; possession of a firearm by a prohibited person; and illegal re-entry to the United States following removal. He was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy to 120 months in federal prison to be followed by five years of federal supervised release. He will face deportation proceedings once he completes his term of incarceration.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Michael Seaman.
The Rhode Island DEA Drug Task Force is comprised of personnel from the DEA; United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General; Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation; Rhode Island State Police; the East Providence, Cranston, Coventry, Newport, North Kingstown, Pawtucket, Providence, South Kingstown, Warwick, West Warwick, and Woonsocket Police Departments; and Amtrak Police Department.
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.