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Justice News

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

Heroin Trafficker Sentenced To Nearly 6 Years In Federal Prison

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Joan R. Nunez, a/k/a Flaco, 35, of Providence, was sentenced on Thursday to 57 months in federal prison for trafficking heroin, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.

Nunez was arrested in March 2014 by detectives assigned to the Providence Police Narcotics and Organized Crime Bureau during an investigation into Nunez’s drug trafficking activities. At the time of Nunez’s arrest, detectives seized more than a kilogram of heroin and nearly $20,000 in cash.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Nunez to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. Nunez pleaded guilty on February 13, 2015, to possession with the intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin.

United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “One can pick up a newspaper in any city in America today and read about the terrible toll taken by heroin use.  Greater Providence, and indeed the entire state of Rhode Island, is no exception; people are dying or nearly dying from heroin overdose at an astonishing rate.  The battle against this danger must be fought on many fronts.  For example, we must continue to take steps to eliminate the over-prescription of and diversion of opioids, which often leads to heroin use and overdose.  So too must we continue to intercept and aggressively prosecute those, like the defendant here, who deal heroin to the addicted.  Providence Police did outstanding work here – work that no doubt saved lives.”

“Once again, the coordinated efforts and partnerships between the Providence Police Department, the DEA, and the U.S. Attorney’s office led to the arrest and conviction of a dangerous criminal,” said Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr. “The Providence Police Narcotics Bureau will continue to work diligently day in and day out to keep hardened criminals off the streets of our city.”

According to court documents and information presented to the court by the government, in March 2014, as part of an ongoing investigation into the distribution of heroin in the city, Providence Police detectives assigned to the Narcotics and Organized Crime Bureau developed information about Nunez’s drug trafficking activities. The investigation determined that Nunez was using two separate residences in Providence for his drug dealing activities.

On March 18, 2014, while conducting surveillance of Nunez’s activities, detectives watched as Nunez drove up to and entered one of the locations they believed he was using for his drug trafficking activities. Nunez exited the location a short time later and drove away. As they continued their surveillance of Nunez, they watched him drive to a nearby location, pick-up a male who was walking and then dropped him off a short time later. Believing it was likely that a drug dealing transaction had just occurred, detectives stopped and questioned the individual. On his person they discovered 16 packets of heroin which he admitted to having purchased for $1,500. A short time later, Providence Police detectives located and detained Nunez. He was found to be carrying, among other things, $1,613 in cash.

Following Nunez’s arrest, Providence Police detectives executed court authorized search warrants at the two locations the detectives believed he was using for his heroin trafficking activities. At the first location detectives seized nearly 156 grams of heroin and $18,000 in cash. At the second location detectives seized approximately 1,214 grams of heroin.

The Providence Police Narcotics and Organized Crime Bureau was assisted in the investigation by members of the Rhode Island DEA Drug Task Force.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela E. Chin.


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Contact: 401-709-5357

Updated June 22, 2015