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Press Release

Rochester Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:    Barbara Burns
PHONE:    (716) 843-5817
FAX #:    (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Fernando Santiago, 67, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and being a felon in possession of ammunition. The fentanyl charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years, and a fine of $1,000,000 or both.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Moynihan, who is handling the case, stated that on June 28, 2022, law enforcement, who were investigating Santiago’s drug trafficking activities,  approached Santiago to perform a welfare check after seeing him fall from a stopped minivan he was driving. After seeing an unknown pill not contained in any prescription pill bottle in the driver’s door, officers detained Santiago and searched the vehicle. Officers found various quantities of suspected controlled substances, later confirmed to be cocaine, fentanyl and para-flourofentanyl. Officers then obtained a search warrant for a Norton Street residence where Santiago had been earlier that day. During the search, officers recovered 40 rounds of ammunition.  Santiago was previously convicted of five separate felonies and is legally prohibited from possessing ammunition. 

The matter was brought by the United States Attorney’s Office as part of its Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative.  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Smith, the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (GRANET), and Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 31, 2023, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Wolford.

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Updated April 19, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses