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Justice News

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

Monday, December 12, 2022

“Operation River Fork” Defendant Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking

PROVIDENCE –  Michael Wilkerson, 38, of Woonsocket, one of eighteen individuals arrested in October 2020 as the result of a wide-ranging FBI Safe Streets Task Force Project Safe Neighborhoods investigation into the trafficking of drugs and firearms in four Rhode Island cities pleaded guilty today to federal cocaine trafficking charges, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

“Operation River Fork” a ten-month investigation that began in Woonsocket and quickly expanded into Providence, Cranston, and Warwick, led to the identification of three drug and/or firearms trafficking conspiracies and eight individuals who were independently involved in the trafficking of drugs and/or firearms. During the investigation, FBI Task Force agents witnessed multiple controlled sales of drugs and firearms, including drug sales by Wilkerson, and agents seized five loaded firearms and more than a kilo of cocaine. 

Detained since his arrest on October 7, 2020, Wilkerson today pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Wilkerson admitted to a federal judge that over a three-month period beginning in June 2020, he sold nearly 93 grams of cocaine.

On the day of his arrest in October 2020 members of the FBI Task Force seized nearly 375 grams of cocaine and $78,212 in cash during a court-authorized search of his residence; those funds will be forfeited as part of his sentence. 

Wilkerson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13, 2023. The defendant’s sentences will be determined by a federal district judge after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stacey Erickson and Christine D. Lowell.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.


Project Safe Neighborhoods
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
Press Release Number: 
Updated December 12, 2022