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Authorities arrest 25 in multi-state drug trafficking sweep

November 2, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Authorities arrest 25 in multi-state drug trafficking sweep

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A drug trafficking investigation named “Operation Panamera” led to the arrests of 25 suspects.

Of those taken into custody, 23 were federally charged in Providence, while two others were charged in Massachusetts and Connecticut state courts, acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Dambruch indicated. Arrest warrants have also been issued for several other individuals.

At a press conference on Monday, authorities said at least 23 kilos of suspected fentanyl, 11 kilos of cocaine, 11 kilos of marijuana and 2 kilos of psilocybin mushrooms were confiscated during the bust. Investigators believe that hundreds of kilos of fentanyl and cocaine were transported through Rhode Island and Massachusetts by the trafficking organization involved in the probe.

“This cooperative effort is another example of the coordinated approach law enforcement employs to combat illegal drug distribution, particularly the opioid epidemic that has hit Rhode Island and the country so hard during the last few years,” Dambruch states. “Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Unfortunately, Rhode Island has not been immune. In 2016, 336 Rhode Islanders died from overdoses, with 195 of those involving fentanyl. To put that in perspective, we had 29 homicides and 53 traffic fatalities in Rhode Island during that period. So, when someone says drug dealing is not a violent crime, think of those numbers.”

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Authorities launched their investigation after intercepting the delivery of a kilo of alleged fentanyl back in February, which was supplied by a Rhode Island man and was being sent to Bridgewater, Massachusetts. This probe led to a series of others that has involved at least 36 federal, state and local agencies in six states and the Dominican Republic.

Officials said a majority of the seizures were carried out as they were sent through the mail, during traffic stops, and with court-ordered residence searches, along with searches of storage units and cars.

“DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling large-scale trafficking organizations like this one operating in Rhode Island,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson stated. “The Delossantos operation was responsible for distributing multi-kilogram quantities of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. DEA and our partners will pursue any group that distributes these poisons. This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative law enforcement and our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

Among those arrested is 24-year-old Ramon Delossantos. Police said Delossantos is a Dominican citizen identified in court records as the head of the drug trafficking group.

The investigation revealed that Delossantos utilized multiple phones to evade police detection and he facilitated the distribution of narcotics in New England.

Court records indicated that Delossantos was previously convicted in Rhode Island and Massachusetts on charges of drug trafficking and possession of a firearm.

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