Three Lawrence men indicted in connection with major fentanyl and heroin trafficking operation

Crime

Law enforcement seized approximately six kilograms of heroin/fentanyl and two illegal firearms in Lawrence.

LAWRENCE – Three Lawrence men have been indicted in connection with a major fentanyl and heroin trafficking operation after a joint state and federal investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately six kilograms of fentanyl/heroin and two illegal firearms, Attorney General Maura Healey announced.

On Thursday, Francis Bienvenido Arias Soto, Pedro Pagan, and Jose Gonzalez were indicted by an Essex Grand Jury on the following charges:

Francis Bienvenido Arias Soto, 39

  • Trafficking in Heroin/Fentanyl, 200 Grams or More (2 counts)
  • Trafficking in Fentanyl, 36-100 Grams (13 counts)
  • Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws (1 count)

Pedro Pagan, 32

  • Trafficking in Heroin/Fentanyl, 200 Grams or More (2 counts)
  • Trafficking in Fentanyl, 36-100 Grams (11 counts)
  • Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws (1 count)
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (2 counts)
  • Defacing a Firearm Serial Number (1 count)
  • Unlawful Possession of Ammunition (1 count)
  • Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Feeding Device (1 count)
  • Possession of a Firearm During a Felony (2 counts)

Jose Gonzalez, 43

  • Trafficking in Heroin/Fentanyl, 200 Grams or More (2 counts)
  • Trafficking in Fentanyl, 36-100 Grams (2 counts)
  • Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws (1 count)

The defendants will be arraigned in Essex Superior Court at a later date.

The defendants were originally arrested in March after a major investigation by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, the Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team (CINRET) North, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Manchester, N.H. District Office, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Drug Task Force, and the New Hampshire State Police Narcotics Investigations Unit, with assistance from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, and the Methuen Police Department.

During the execution of a search warrant at a Lawrence apartment, law enforcement seized approximately five kilograms of heroin/fentanyl and two firearms, one of which had an obliterated serial number and one with a large capacity magazine. The seizures followed a series of more than 20 undercover drug buys of more than 1.3 kilograms of fentanyl/heroin in Massachusetts and New Hampshire during an investigation that spanned 13 months.

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 Fentanyl Strike Force was created in 2016 using a $1 million grant from the US 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 Caitlin McDermott of the AG’s Enterprise & Major Crimes Division.

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