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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Four Charged in Ongoing Meth Trafficking Investigation

PROVIDENCE – An ongoing federal, state, and local law enforcement Project Safe Neighborhoods investigation into the trafficking of crystal methamphetamine (meth) in Rhode Island has to date resulted in the arrest of four individuals, and the seizure of more than 250 grams of crystal meth and two firearms, according to documents unsealed in U.S. District Court today, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police Colonel James M. Manni, and Warwick Police Chief Colonel Rick Rathbun.

The FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force, the Rhode Island State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, and the Warwick Police Department joint investigation determined that crystal meth was routinely shipped from out-of-state to Providence, and was allegedly being stored and distributed from residences and a storage unit in Providence and from a Warwick motel.

According to the court documents, it is alleged that beginning in at least August 2019, Sean M. Francis, 31, of Providence, began receiving a steady flow of overnight packages containing crystal meth shipped from out-of-state. At least 11 such packages have been identified by law enforcement. It is alleged that Francis distributed the crystal meth to others.

According to court documents, it is alleged that on several occasions Steven Robinson, 47, and Alexa Samoiloff, 50, of Providence, sold crystal meth to others, including to Jacob Abbruzzese, 46, of Cranston. It is alleged in court documents that Abbruzzese sold crystal meth to others.

During the course of the investigation, at least nine alleged drug transactions of between 8 grams and 49.4 grams for between $200 and $1,400 were monitored by law enforcement. The crystal meth was immediately seized by law enforcement following each monitored transaction.

On October 18, 2019, court-authorized searches of Robinson and Samoiloff’s Providence residence and a Providence storage unit rented by Abbruzzese were conducted. Law enforcement seized 41.4 grams of crystal meth, 109 rounds of 9mm ammunition, numerous edged weapons, a crossbow, and items used in the packaging and distribution of crystal meth.

Robinson, Samoiloff, and Abbruzzese were arrested on October 18 on federal criminal complaints charging each with conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and distribution of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine. They were ordered detained in federal custody following initial appearances in U.S. District Court.

On November 7, 2019, law enforcement executed a court-authorized search of Francis’ residence and seized 66.3 grams of crystal meth, a black Taurus handgun accompanied by 14 rounds of .357 ammunition and a speed loader, a colt “Official Police” revolver, a pellet handgun, numerous cellphones, and items used in the packaging and distribution of crystal meth.

Francis was arrested on November 7 and ordered detained in federal custody following an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Friday on a criminal complaint charging him with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine D. Lowell and Sandra R. Hebert.

United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta, and Warwick Police Chief Colonel Rick Rathbun thank the Newport and Providence Police Departments for their assistance in the investigation.

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.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Contact: 
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
Press Release Number: 
19-146
Updated November 13, 2019