LAWRENCE – Two Lawrence men have been arraigned in connection with an extensive heroin trafficking operation, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The men were arrested while trying to flee a Lawrence home where authorities seized four guns, approximately $2,000 in cash and about four kilograms of heroin with an estimated street value of more than $1 million.
Wilkins Diaz, age 39, and Luis Hernandez, age 32, were arrested last Thursday in a joint operation involving Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Transportation Drug Unit (TDU) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“Our office is committed to combatting the opioid crisis on multiple fronts, including prosecuting those who traffic these deadly drugs,” said AG Healey. “I thank the other agencies involved in this operation and will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to fight this devastating epidemic that is claiming lives across the state.”
Diaz and Hernandez were arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Friday each on one count of Trafficking in Heroin over 1,000 Grams, Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Law, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, and Improper Storage of a Firearm. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges. Diaz was held on $750,000 cash bail and Hernandez was held on $500,000 cash bail.
If either of the defendants posts bail, they must surrender their passports and be monitored by GPS. They are both due back in Lawrence District Court on June 10.
In May, authorities from the State Police TDU began an investigation into an alleged drug trafficking operation in the Lawrence area.
Authorities executed search warrants last Thursday and seized approximately four kilograms of heroin in total, as well as a kilo press, digital scales, approximately $2,000 in cash, and other packaging materials that were found in the home. Four handguns were also found and neither Diaz nor Hernandez had a valid license to carry a firearm.
Authorities arrested Diaz and Hernandez as they were trying to flee the home. Diaz had about $3,000 in cash in his pocket at the time of arrest.
This investigation remains ongoing.
Shortly before taking office, Attorney General Maura Healey announced the formation of an internal AG’s task force to more aggressively combat the heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis in Massachusetts.
A recent report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates that more than 1,000 people died from overdoses of heroin and other opioids in 2014 in Massachusetts, which is 33 percent higher than in 2012.
AG Healey has vowed to use a multi-faceted approach to improve the prescription monitoring program, educate prescribers, pursue illegal drug traffickers and pill mills, and expand access to recovery and treatment programs.
This spring, AG Healey participated in the Governor’s Opioid Addiction Working Group Listening Tour, which provided an opportunity to gather feedback from the community and ideas on how to halt the opioid epidemic.
Last month, the AG’s Office sued a North Andover treatment center for unlawfully profiting off of patients seeking treatment for opiate addiction, charging hundreds of dollars per visit and allowing them to avoid counseling services.
Also in April, two Boston men were arrested in connection with trafficking heroin after search warrants were executed in Dorchester and Roxbury and more than 130 grams of heroin were seized. In March, the AG’s Office indicted a Dorchester man and woman in connection with heroin trafficking.
In January, the AG’s Office arrested and charged Naman Spencer for his involvement in an alleged scheme to use fraudulent prescriptions to illegally obtain Oxycodone tablets.
The AG’s Office discovered Spencer’s alleged illegal activities through their investigation into Vincent Leo, who was indicted on more than 100 counts of prescription and credit card fraud and identity theft in November 2014. Leo allegedly created hundreds of fraudulent prescriptions in order to obtain oxycodone tablets.
The charges against Diaz and Hernandez are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Marina Moriarty, of AG Healey’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, with assistance from State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Transportation Drug Unit (TDU), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Lawrence Police Department and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.