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Drug bust hailed as biggest in Massachusetts’ history tied to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel

February 12, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Drug bust hailed as biggest in Massachusetts’ history tied to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel

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Federal agents and authorities in Boston have seized over 33 pounds of fentanyl — enough of the lethal synthetic opioid to kill every man, woman, and child in Massachusetts — which was transported into the city in by Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa cartel.

A long wiretap operation conducted by a joint task force including DEA agents and Boston police resulted in an early-morning drug bust, along with the arrests of 37 suspects. One of those arrested in the raid is purported kingpin Robert Contreras, 42.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley called the probe “one of the longest, far-reaching and most successful wiretap investigations in Massachusetts history. … But it did not stop there. It continued up to identify the second group at the top of the domestic pyramid, one with ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.”

Contreras was ordered to remain in custody on $1 million bail at his arraignment on charges of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine trafficking, according to the Boston Herald.

The  6-month investigation took more than 33 pounds of cartel-sourced fentanyl off the street — a staggering amount of a substance that can kill in just milligrams. Courtesy of the Suffolk County DA’s Office/Boston Herald

The six-month probe first resulted in the arrest late last year of 43-year-old Edward Soto-Perez, who managed a group that would deal drugs obtained from Contreras throughout Massachusetts and as far away as Pennsylvania.

“We allege that the Contreras organization worked with members of the Sinaloa cartel, one of the most powerful drug-trafficking organizations, who imported huge quantities of narcotics into the northeastern United States,” Conley stated. “We believe they were so high in the distribution structure that the next level up would take us outside the U.S. Evidence suggests that the Contreras organization would receive those narcotics and distribute them to the Soto-Perez group and others, who would supply lower-level dealers.”

In sum, 77 pounds of drugs were confiscated, including heroin, cocaine and opiate tablets along with the fentanyl. Officials said they seized $300,000 in drug proceeds.

Michael J. Ferguson, DEA’s special agent in charge of the New England Office, compared fentanyl to a weapon of mass destruction.

“You take a sweetener packet that has 1,000 milligrams that you put in a cup of coffee. It takes two milligrams, and it’s lights out for an individual,” Ferguson stated. “We’re talking a couple of grains of salt. It can kill you if you inject it in your arm if you snort it or simply breathe it in the air. Drug traffickers are now lacing fentanyl not just with heroin, but with cocaine. As well as in pain pills, counterfeit pills made to look like Percocet.”

Targets of the Operation High Hopes investigation (Courtesy of the Suffolk County DA)

The 33 pounds of fentanyl taken is sufficient to kill over 7 million people in its pure form, according to a law enforcement source. The state’s population is 6.8 million.

The probe was launched in July and focused on Soto-Perez, who was “extremely diligent” in covering his moves using couriers for deliveries, switching vehicles to thwart authorities and making several turns in the span of a mile to spot surveillance.

Conley’s office then took the unusual step of approving a wiretap application to get evidence about Soto-Perez’s suppliers and stash houses. In following months, the court extended the wiretap 11 times and supported interceptions on over two dozen phones. The wiretaps led police to Contreras.

“In some calls, the defendants referred to shipments as ‘musicians’ and payments as ‘tickets’ to the party,” the DA said. “In others, they discussed purity levels by referring to a kilo of cocaine as a ‘car’ that could fit ‘three passengers’ — a highly potent product that could be quadrupled in weight with cutting agents.”

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