Operation Open Air: 42 people arrested following drug sweep in Holyoke

Crime

HOLYOKE, Mass (WWLP) – 42 people were charged with federal drug and firearm offenses as part of an operation in Holyoke called “Operation Open Air.”

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, the enforcement operation that took place during October was a coordinated effort by federal, state and local partners to focus on drug distribution activity in Holyoke.

The operation targeted people distributing opioids, including heroin in open, public spaces. The majority of the charges came from sweeps in the Holyoke area. As a result, 17 people were charged with federal drug offenses and 25 for state firearms and drug offenses.

“These defendants sold heroin and fentanyl so they could profit from a crisis that is killing about 2,000 Massachusetts residents a year. During this operation, law enforcement targeted and dismantled illegal drug markets operating in plain sight. Thanks to the coordinated partnership of local, state and federal law enforcement, dangerous drugs have been removed from the streets and Holyoke and surrounding communities are safer for all residents.”

-United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling

“The catastrophic abuse of opioids is filling emergency rooms and graveyards. ‘Operation Open Air’ was carried out to temper future casualties of this crisis in the Pioneer Valley by shutting down the open peddling of deadly drugs in public spaces. The FBI and our law enforcement partners take pride in having struck one more serious blow to ruthless traffickers preying on our vulnerable neighbors.”

– Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.

The enforcement actions brought together federal, state and local officers from Western Massachusetts to conduct surveillance, investigate and arrest defendants. The following people were arrested on federal charges:

  • 34-year-old Dennis Roman of Holyoke, conspiracy to distribute heroin and distribution of heroin
  • 21-year-old Ronny Authier of Holyoke, distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin
  • 31-year-old Christopher Lebron of Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 18-year-old Alexis Santana of Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 35-year-old Jayson Quinones of Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 20-year-old Herman Gomez of Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 28-year-old Joevani Pagan of Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 34-year-old Alexis Tapia of Holyoke, distribution of heroin and cocaine
  • Juan Rivera-Velez, distribution of heroin
  • 50-year-old Milagros Gaetan, distribution of heroin
  • 42-year-old Jose Cruz, distribution of cocaine
  • 38-year-old Jeffrey Caride of  Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 22-year-old Miquiana Laboy of Holyoke, distribution of heroin and cocaine
  • 25-year-old Gilbert Ramos of Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 26-year-old Manuel Sanchez of Holyoke, distribution of heroin
  • 21-year-old Pedro Rivas-Morales of Holyoke, distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin
  • 44-year-old Roberto Santiago of Holyoke, distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, the charge of drug distribution provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a $1 million fine. The charge of conspiracy to distribute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

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