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Alleged leader of Lawrence fentanyl trafficking ring charged in death of user

One of two Lawrence brothers previously indicted for allegedly running a fentanyl trafficking ring throughout the Merrimack Valley is now charged in a drug user’s death — one of several new charges that he and other members of the operation face, federal authorities said Friday.

Brothers Sergio Martinez, 28, and Raulin Martinez, 36, were indicted in April along with 43 others for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and possessing fentanyl with the intention to distribute it, according to a statement from Scott W. Murray, US Attorney for the District of New Hampshire, and Brian D. Boyle, special agent in charge of the New England Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Now Sergio Martinez faces new charges of aiding and abetting a distribution of fentanyl that resulted in death, of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and of money laundering, according to the statement.

A document filed in federal court on Wednesday alleges that on or near March 1, 2017, Sergio Martinez was responsible for distributing fentanyl to someone identified only as K.B., “the use of which by K.B. resulted in his death.”

“New Hampshire knows all too well about the deadly nature of fentanyl,” Murray said in the statement. “We are fully committed to ending the opioid epidemic and will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who are responsible for distributing fentanyl and other dangerous drugs.”

Boyle, in the statement, emphasized the DEA’s commitment to breaking up trafficking operations.

“DEA’s top priority is combatting the opioid epidemic by working with our local, county, state, and federal partners to bring to justice anyone who distributes this poison,” he said.

Raulin Martinez also faces a money laundering charge, as does Luz Perez-DeMartinez, 25, of Lawrence, authorities said. Also facing the firearms charge are Jesus Rivera, 20, of Lawrence; Julio Saldana, 18, of Lawrence; and Joshua Smith, 29, of Plaistow, N.H.

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According to a federal court filing, Smith and Sergio Martinez were in possession of a Ruger 9-millimeter pistol and 26 rounds of ammunition, while Rivera and Saldana had a .38-caliber Armscor Special Edition revolver and six rounds of ammunition.

Two more Lawrence residents — Luz DeJesus, 33, and Henry Marte, 21 — have been charged with conspiracy and possession with the intention to distribute fentanyl. With the addition of DeJesus and Marte, a total of 47 people are now charged as participants in the ring.

The Martinez brothers allegedly used a “vast network of dispatchers and distributors” to sell fentanyl to buyers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and even as far away as Maine, operating as a “major supplier of fentanyl in New England,” authorities said.

Suppliers in New York and the Dominican Republic used Lawrence as their main distribution point, according to David Procopio, a spokesman for Massachusetts State Police.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared to refer to the bust of the Martinez brothers’ operation during a speech in Concord, N.H., on Thursday, when he commended federal prosecutors for bringing charges “against some 50 people involved in distributing fentanyl in this community — including four illegal aliens residing in the sanctuary city of Lawrence, Massachusetts.”

The drug ring was broken up after a yearlong investigation by federal, state, and local authorities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine that also nabbed more than 30 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, the two guns, and more than $500,000 in cash, according to officials.

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“During the course of the investigation — dubbed Operation Tres Capos — investigators compiled nearly weekly reports of customers who had made drug purchases from the organization being interdicted and arrested by state or local police agencies,” Procopio said in an e-mail.

“Troopers, agents, and task force officers also conducted several operations in which narcotics and weapons were seized from members or customers of the drug trafficking organization,” Procopio continued.

Each alleged participant in the conspiracy faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison, as well as a fine of $10 million, if convicted. Sergio Martinez faces a prison sentence of 20 years to life and a further fine of up to $10 million if he is convicted of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.