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21 charged in alleged conspiracy to sell cocaine, fentanyl

21 charged in alleged conspiracy to sell cocaine, fentanyl

BOSTON (AP) — Drug charges have been filed against 21 people accused of running a cocaine and fentanyl ring that spanned Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine and Puerto Rico, Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel Mendell’s office said Wednesday.

Authorities say the operation was based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and sold drugs in retail and allegedly wholesale quantities, using couriers and stash houses to store and distribute drugs.

Some alleged members are accused of regularly traveling to Puerto Rico to buy cocaine and then mailing it to addresses in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. One member was a corrections officer in Middleton, Massachusetts, and is accused of attempting to smuggle fentanyl, cocaine and Suboxone into a correctional facility.

In total, authorities say they seized 10.5 kilograms of cocaine, 650 grams of suspected fentanyl and more than $200,000 in drug proceeds.

Nineteen suspected members of the ring were arrested Wednesday and face charges including conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, cocaine and other controlled substances. Another alleged member was arrested on a single count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and another member facing charges remains at large, prosecutors said.

The conspiracy charge carries a minimum prison sentence of three years and up to 20.

According to charging documents, law enforcement officials began investigating the drug ring in May 2020 and intercepted communications detailing plans to distribute cocaine and fentanyl. The investigation was part of a federal program that helps multiple agencies work together to stop drug trafficking.