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Press Release

Dominican National Sentenced to Prison, Faces Deportation for Drug Trafficking

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

PROVIDENCE – Francisco Fernandez, a/k/a Joel Antonio Santana Arias, 44, a Dominican national who resided in Lawrence, Mass., was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., to 46 months in federal prison for possessing with the intent to distribute nearly two kilograms of cocaine. The cocaine was discovered inside Fernandez’s vehicle by a Rhode Island State Police trooper during a traffic stop in February 2017.


At sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., also ordered Fernandez to serve 3 years supervised release upon completion of his prison term. At the conclusion of his term of incarceration, Fernandez will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation proceedings.


The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range of imprisonment in this matter is 37- 46 months. The government recommended the court impose a sentence of 46 months in prison.


Fernandez pleaded guilty on June 19, 2017, to possession with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine.


According to information presented to the court, on February 11, 2017, during a traffic stop of Fernandez’s vehicle on I-95 in West Greenwich by a Rhode Island State Police trooper, it was determined that Fernandez did not have a valid driver’s license. As forms of identification, Fernandez provided a Dominican Republic passport and a vehicle registration under the name of Joel Antonio Santana Arias. A further check determined that the name Joel Antonio Santana Arias was an alias for Francisco Fernandez, and revealed an active arrest warrant out of Massachusetts for Fernandez. It was also discovered that Fernandez had mutilated his fingerprints.


After Fernandez was taken into custody, a search of Mr. Fernandez’s vehicle by Rhode Island State Police revealed nearly two kilograms of cocaine inside a backpack, which was located on the front passenger floorboard.


Francisco Fernandez’s sentence is announced by Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch; Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Matthew J. Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations for New England.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ly T. Chin, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Zechariah Chafee.



Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
on Twitter @USAO_RI

Updated September 7, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 17-104