NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) ─ Detectives arrested several people in connection with a multi-year, joint investigation into a drug-trafficking organization operating out of New Bedford, according to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Lunch Break,” targeted the Geraldo Rivera Drug Trafficking Organization, Quinn said.
The organization, according to Quinn, was responsible for distributing large amounts of fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana, and opioid pills throughout the New Bedford area.
“Fentanyl has been the primary cause of the increase in fatal overdoses in Bristol County during the past seven years,” Quinn said. “Through a cooperative law enforcement effort, we will continue to work to interrupt and dismantle these drug-trafficking organizations who profit off the addiction and misery of our fellow citizens.”
Last Friday, Quinn said officers executed search warrants at five homes in New Bedford and two in Providence.
In New Bedford, detectives arrested 11 people including ringleader Geraldo Rivera, 35, who’s charged with four counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws.
David Cruz, 26, was also arrested and charged with four counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Nyel Paris-Villanueva, 23, is charged with distributing a Class B drug, trafficking in excess of 36 grams of a Class A drug, and six counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Sergio Velasquez is charged with trafficking in excess of 18 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
The following people are charged with one count each of conspiracy to violate drug laws: Jessenia Camacho, 27, Jose Quinones, 34, Jack Neves, 25, Edgar Hernandez-Casiano, 30, Courtney Reynolds, 22, Xavier Thompson, 27, and Flor Echevarria, 69.
In Providence, Quinn said officers arrested Hector Concepcion, 34, who will be charged in Rhode Island then extradited to Massachusetts to face additional charges.
During the New Bedford searches, officers found more than 100 grams of suspected fentanyl and more than 50 grams of suspected cocaine, along with $14,000 cash, according to Quinn.
In Rhode Island, officers seized 1.5 kilograms of cocaine. Quinn said they also discovered 0.5 kilograms of “high-grade fentanyl” that the organization would eventually “convert to 4.5 kilograms prior to distribution.”
Rivera was ordered held without bail during a dangerousness hearing following his arrest.