Federal prosecutors in Boston have charged eight people with allegedly participating in a fentanyl and cocaine ring based in Mexico, Acting US Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell’s office said Wednesday in a statement.
The statement said a year-long wiretap investigation showed the defendants were directly tied to a “poly-drug trafficking organization” operating in Mexico and were distributing fentanyl and cocaine and laundering drug proceeds in the US on behalf of the outfit.
“All eyes have been on the COVID pandemic, but the opioid epidemic continues to kill thousands of people in Massachusetts each year,” Mendell said in the statement. “Prosecuting drug traffickers who profit off of addiction and desperation is essential to save lives, protect the vulnerable and make communities safer. On behalf of all our federal partners, I would like to acknowledge the exceptional work of the Massachusetts State Police in this case. Their investigative skills and commitment to teamwork made this result possible.”
The statement said authorities on Tuesday seized about 17 kilograms of fentanyl, roughly $220,000 in U.S. currency, and three vehicles including a Porsche while executing search warrants in Boston, Malden, Quincy, Milton, and Centerville in connection with the case.
The charges brought against the eight defendants followed a prior sweep in August that saw 18 people charged in the probe, according to the statement.
So far, officials said, the case has netted charges against 26 people and the seizure of 55.5 kilograms of fentanyl, 24 kilograms of cocaine, 500 fentanyl pills, and about $1.4 million in cash and “real assets.”
“This case disrupted a Boston-based drug trafficking organization with direct ties to a Mexican cartel that allegedly distributed dangerous drugs like fentanyl and cocaine in our communities and conspired to launder their proceeds in an effort to conceal what they were doing,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston field office, in the statement.
Authorities on Wednesday identified the eight newly charged defendants as Cesar Alejandro Castro Pujols, of Milton; Andre Heraux Martinez, of Hyde Park; Fermin Castillo, who currently resides in Mexico; Saturnino Guerrero, of Roxbury; Kevin Carmona Victorino, of Dorchester; Kevin Hayes, of Centerville; Songfeng Chen, of Quincy; and Chi Ying, of Malden.
All the defendants except Chen and Ying face charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and cocaine, the statement said.
All eight defendants are charged with conspiracy to launder money, authorities said.