PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One of the 16 suspects arrested earlier this year during the federal investigation dubbed “Operation Triple Play” has agreed to plead guilty, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Jafar Munir, of Smithfield, signed a plea agreement for one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine for his alleged role in what investigators called a sophisticated, multi-state drug ring, bringing the drugs into the U.S. from Mexico.
The plea deal does not indicate whether or not Munir will testify against the 15 other suspects.
Three brothers – Juan, Hector and Claudio Valdez – ran the operation, and according to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, the trio and six other suspects were in the U.S. illegally. Juan Valdez had been deported four times, and the nine Dominican nationals now have immigration detainers against them.
The investigation began in Sept. 2016, with state and federal officers seizing 4 kilograms of heroin, 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl, 2 kilograms of cocaine and 155 grams of crack cocaine, a total of about 17 pounds of drugs. The street value of the seized drugs was nearly $700,000 and investigators said it was only a small amount of what the operation potentially dealt before the probe began.
Munir, who is a U.S. citizen, was said to be a low-level dealer whom investigators recorded having several phone conversations with the Valdez brothers, who nicknamed him “Gringo” since he spoke only English.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Munir was heard ordering packages of “white” for cocaine and “brown” for heroin, which Munir would later allegedly resell in smaller doses.
The surveillance referenced in the affidavit took place at a number of Providence addresses, and there are no indications where Munir allegedly sold the drugs he bought.
In exchange for a guilty plea the government will recommend a reduction in Munir’s offense level, which could lighten the sentence he’ll receive. The maximum sentence for cocaine and heroin distribution is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
During Operation Triple Play, investigators seized $95,000 in cash and nine vehicles – five of which had hidden compartments that were allegedly used for transporting drugs and money.
The affidavit said there were stash houses in Cranston and Woonsocket and that the drug ring distributed to dealers such as Munir in the greater Providence, Boston and Hartford areas.