BOSTON – The leader of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) has pleaded guilty to his involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, carfentanil and fentanyl analogue in and around the Lawrence area, as well as to possessing a loaded firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking offense.
Luis Manuel Rodriguez Then, 31, formerly of Lawrence, pleaded guilty on Sept. 8, 2022 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, heroin, 500 grams or more of cocaine, 10 grams or more of carfentanil and 10 grams or more of 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl (fentanyl analogue); distribution of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and 10 grams or more of 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Jan. 12, 2023.
From October 2018 through March 13, 2019, Rodriguez Then was a leader of a DTO that distributed fentanyl, fentanyl analogue and other substances in and around the Lawrence area. Rodriguez Then and another individual employed a third individual who was tasked with residing at a stash house maintained by and serving as a courier for the DTO.
Law enforcement utilized a confidential source to conduct three controlled purchases of fentanyl from the DTO, for which Rodriguez Then and the other individual obtained the order and collected payment. The courier provided the confidential source with the requested pills, which tested positive for fentanyl. For the third transaction, the pills distributed by Rodriguez Then’s DTO tested positive for fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl analogue.
During a search of Rodriguez Then’s residence on March 13, 2019, a wall hide was located in the master bedroom containing $7,010 in drug proceeds, a loaded .22 caliber Smith and Wesson firearms and multiple fake identification cards bearing the Rodriguez Then’s likeness. During a subsequent search of the stash house multiple hidden compartments/wall hides were discovered, containing drug paraphernalia and narcotics including: approximately two kilograms of fentanyl; 732 grams of heroin; over two kilograms of cocaine; and 448.4 grams of carfentanil.
The charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, heroin, 500 grams or more of cocaine, 10 grams or more of carfentanil, 10 grams or more of 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl (fentanyl analogue), and distribution of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and 10 grams or more of 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl each provide for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, mandatory four years and up to lifetime supervised release and a fine of up to $5 million. The charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to life in prison to be served consecutively with any sentence on the distribution and drug conspiracy charge, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Ferguson and Lindsey E. Weinstein of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.