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Press Release

Gang Leader Sentenced for Possessing Ammunition While on Federal Supervised Release Less Than a Year After Serving More Than Fifteen Years in Prison for Trafficking Drugs

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

PROVIDENCE – A Providence man identified by law enforcement as a leader of the Trinitarios street gang, has been sentenced to thirty months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of ammunition, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

Juan Guerrero, 42, was found to be in possession of 9 mm cartridges in October 2019, ten months after he completed serving a fifteen-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence for trafficking drugs.  The October 2019 arrest occurred while Guerrero was subject to a five-year term of supervised release that followed his term of incarceration.

Minutes after Providence Police saw a vehicle driven by Guerrero speed away from an area where they were investigating reports of shots fired, a traffic stop resulted in the discovery of a knapsack containing 9 mm ammunition in Guerrero’s vehicle. The investigation later determined that ten spent shell casings recovered by police from the shooting location carried the same marking as did  live 9 mm cartridges retrieved from the knapsack.

“Gang violence and gun crimes sow fear on our streets and rob Rhode Islanders of the safety that every one of us deserves in all of our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Cunha.  “Rather than learning from the consequences of his past crimes, this Defendant chose to reoffend and put lives at risk.  Thanks to superb investigative work by the Providence Police, however, he has been held accountable yet again, and our streets are safer for it.”

“I commend the outstanding work conducted by our officers to assist in removing this dangerous career criminal from our streets,” said Providence Police Colonel Oscar L. Perez. “The continued partnership amongst our law enforcement partners has been an invaluable resource in the reduction of drug and gun violence and in this case the defendant is more than deserving of the sentence he was given. We will continue to utilize every resource available to us to make our streets safe and I thank the Office of the United States Attorney for their commitment to public safety.”

According to a government Sentencing Memorandum filed with the court, on October 21, 2019, at approximately 1:20 am, Providence Police received reports of shots fired. As they were responding, they saw a vehicle speed away from the general area. Providence Police followed the vehicle and attempted to stop it. At first, the driver refused to stop. When it did, the driver, Juan Guerrero,  was uncooperative with police and refused officers’ commands. Guerrero was removed from the vehicle at gunpoint and handcuffed. Police later determined that the 16-year-old was, at the time, in the custody of the Rhode Island Training School, but was  allowed home under the supervision of his mother. A knapsack containing the ammunition was discovered in the vehicle.

As detailed in court filings, a subsequent investigation by Providence Police revealed surveillance video showing several shots being fired into the air by a person that matched a physical description of Guerrero and the clothing he was wearing at the time of his arrest. The individual is seen in the video firing the gun into the air, and nine or ten muzzle flashes can be seen as shots are fired. The shell casings retrieved from the scene of the shooting and the ammunition contained in the knapsack retrieved from Guerrero’s car carried the same markings.

As a result of his arrest related to this incident, Guerrero was found to have violated the conditions of his federal supervised release and was sentenced to 24 months of incarceration.

On March 23, 2023, Guerrero pleaded guilty to a separate charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition. He was sentenced on Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to 30 months of incarceration to be followed by three years of federal supervised release. The Court ordered Guerrero to serve the additional 30-month sentence imposed today consecutive to the term of incarceration he is currently serving for violating his supervised release conditions.

The matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacey A. Erickson.



Jim Martin
(401) 709-5357

Updated April 13, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 23-40