Mass. Resident Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Cocaine
PROVIDENCE – Francisco Fernandez, a/k/a Joel Antonio Santana Arias, 43, of Lawrence, MA, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., today to possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. The cocaine was discovered inside Fernandez’s vehicle by a Rhode Island State Police trooper during a routine traffic stop in February 2017.
According to information presented to the court, on February 11, 2017, during a routine traffic stop of Fernandez’s vehicle on Interstate 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.
Mr. Fernandez was taken into custody. During an inventory of Mr. Fernandez’s vehicle prior to being towed, nearly two kilograms of cocaine was discovered inside a backpack located on the front passenger floorboard.
Francisco Fernandez’s guilty plea 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.
Ferandez, who is detained in federal custody, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., on September 1, 2017.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ly T. Chin, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Zechariah Chafee.