PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Police seized more than 1,000 grams of fentanyl and have charged 13 people following a months-long investigation into a Providence drug ring.
United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron Weisman said officers executed eight search warrants Tuesday morning throughout Providence.
Weisman said of the 13 people charged in the drug ring, 11 are in federal custody — adding the other two suspects are expected to be in custody soon.
During the searches, officers found more than 600 grams of fentanyl, 610 fentanyl pills, 67 grams of crack cocaine and 102 grams of cocaine. Police also found three firearms.
Weisman said many of the suspects have “lengthy criminal records” — with several of them currently serving suspended or probationary sentences.
Special Agent of the FBI Boston Division Joseph Bonavolonta said detectives with the Safe Streets Task Force conducted 29 video-recorded drug deals throughout the course of the investigation.
The investigation began in June 2019 when detectives received information about alleged drug trafficking in Providence involving Hector Rivera, 40, of Central Falls.
At one point, Bonavolonta said detectives witnessed Rivera delivering 50 grams of fentanyl to Rafael Ferrer, 39, of Providence.
As the investigation continued, detectives witnessed several people associated with Ferrer, including members of his family, selling the drugs “at homes, in the streets and in parking lots of businesses” throughout Providence.
Throughout the course of the investigation, Bonavolonta said officers removed roughly $175,000 worth of drugs from the streets of Providence.
“Dealing deadly drugs was a family affair, and for their suppliers a very dangerous one, as illustrated by the firearms we seized throughout the course of the investigation,” Bonavolonta said. “If that’s not troubling enough, we allege at least two of these drug dealers were playing Russian roulette with people’s lives, pushing pills that were disguised as prescription painkillers when they were really fentanyl.”