8 charged after fentanyl trafficking operation investigation

Crime

Investigation led by Attorney General’s New England Fentanyl Strike Force; Law Enforcement Seized more than Two Kilograms of Fentanyl

LAWRENCE, Mass. (USDOJ) –  After a joint federal, state, and local investigation led by Attorney General Maura Healey’s New England Fentanyl Strike Force, eight individuals have been charged in connection with running a major fentanyl trafficking operation in Lawrence. Authorities seized more than two kilograms of fentanyl during the course of the investigation.

These charges are the result of a months-long investigation by AG Healey’s Enterprise & Major Crimes Division, Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team (CINRET) North and the AG’s Office, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the New Hampshire State Police Narcotics Investigation Unit, the Lynn Police Department, and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab into a drug distribution enterprise operating in and around the Lawrence area.

Last week, authorities executed search warrants at six locations in Lawrence, yielding approximately $150,000 in cash and 700 grams of fentanyl and crack cocaine. During the course of the investigation, authorities seized an additional 1,800 grams of fentanyl and 500 pressed fentanyl pills.

The following individuals have been charged in connection with the fentanyl trafficking operation:

Ricardito Aybar Franco, age 32, of Lawrence

Trafficking a Class A Substance, 18-36 grams (13 counts)
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 36-100 grams (4 counts)
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 100-200 grams (3 counts)
Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substances Act (1 count)

He was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Sept. 29 and bail was set at $150,000. His next court date is Oct. 27.

Chrisleyri Guerrero Tejeda, age 24, of Lawrence
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 18-36 grams (1 count) 
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 36-100 grams (2 counts)
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 100-200 grams (1 count)
Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substances Act (1 count)

She was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Sept. 29 and bail was set at $25,000. Her next court date is Oct. 27.

Rafael Bernabel-Mejia, age 58, of Lawrence
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 36-100 grams (1 count)
Possession with Intent to Distribute a Class A Substance (1 count)
Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substances Act (1 count)

He was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Sept. 29 and bail was set at $150,000. His next court date is Oct. 27.

Rafael Gonzalez-Polanco, age 26, of Lawrence
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 200 grams or more (1 count)

He was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Sept. 29 and bail was set at $150,000. His next court date is Oct. 27.

Wilkin Sanchez Tejeda (aka Marco Delacruz), age 41, of Lawrence
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 200 grams or more (1 count)

He was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Sept. 30 and bail was set at $200,000. His next court date is Oct. 27. 

Alberto Aybar-Franco, age 28, of Lawrence
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 100-200 grams (1 count)

He was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Sept. 30 and bail was set at $100,000. His next court date is Oct. 27.

Luciano Vasquez, age 28, of Lowell
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 200 grams or more (1 count)

He was arraigned in Lowell District Court on Aug. 18 and bail was set at $7,500. His next court date is Oct. 22.

Anthony Ramos Phillips, age 28, of Lowell
Trafficking a Class A Substance, 200 grams or more (1 count)

He was arraigned in Lowell District Court on Aug. 18 and bail was set at $7,500. His next court date is Oct. 22.

All of these charges are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

AG Healey’s Office has prioritized combatting the opioid crisis and has been working closely with federal, state and local partners to fight illegal drug trafficking throughout New England. The AG’s New England Fentanyl Strike Force was created in 2016 using a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services Anti-Heroin Task Force and has since been strengthened with a nearly $3 million grant in 2018 and a $2.6 million grant in 2019, which have expanded ongoing multistate and cross-jurisdictional investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lynn Brennan and Division Chief Gina Masotta, both of the AG’s Enterprise & Major Crimes Division.

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