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Justice News

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Illegal Alien Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Fentanyl Laced Heroin, Illegal Reentry

PROVIDENCE, RI – A Dominican national who had previously been convicted in federal court in Boston in 1998 for trafficking cocaine, sentenced to 72 months in federal prison and ordered deported, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence today to reentering the county illegally and conspiring to possess and distribute nearly 300 grams of fentanyl laced heroin.

Juan Manuel Bautista Arias’ drug trafficking activity in Hartford, Conn., was identified by the Rhode Island FBI Safe Streets Task Force during an investigation into a drug trafficking organization that regularly imported kilograms of heroin and cocaine from Mexico via the Southwest border of the United States directly into Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The investigation, dubbed “Operation Triple Play,” in reference to three brothers who entered the country illegally and allegedly ran the drug trafficking operation, was dismantled by law enforcement in April 2017. The investigation resulted in the arrest of 16 individuals, at least 9 of which have been determined to have been in the United States illegally. Numerous kilograms of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine, substantial amounts of cash, and at least 9 vehicles were seized.

Appearing in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., Bautista admitted that shortly after he was released from a prison in Bani, Dominican Republic, on an unrelated criminal matter, he was illegally brought to the United States by the Rhode Island and Massachusetts based drug trafficking organization. The organization provided him with an apartment in Hartford, Conn., from which he ran a heroin and cocaine drug distribution operation, at their direction.

In April 2017, law enforcement a executed a court authorized search warrant at Bautista’s residence and seized nearly 287 grams of heroin laced with fentanyl, and $3,200 in cash. Bautista was found to be in possession of a fraudulent Puerto Rican birth certificate. Bautista’s fingerprints had been surgically altered.

Bautista, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and illegal reentry, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. on July 26, 2018.

Bautista’s guilty plea is announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Field Division Harold H. Shaw.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan.

United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch acknowledges and thanks the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut for their assistance in the government’s case against Juan Manuel Bautista Arias.

Operation Triple Play is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation initiated by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force. Under the direction of the FBI, the participating agencies in this investigation include the Drug Enforcement Administration (Providence and Boston Resident Agencies); Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Rhode Island State Police; Providence Police Department; Woonsocket Police Department; Central Falls Police Department; Cranston Police Department; Warwick Police Department and; the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.


Drug Trafficking
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 11, 2018