LAWRENCE — A major drug dealer was sentenced to more than 15 years in jail Thursday on charges of trafficking fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and carfentanil in the area and for possessing a loaded firearm.

Luis Manuel Rodriguez Then, 31, formerly of Lawrence, was sentenced to 186 months in prison and five years of supervised release, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.

In September, Rodriguez Then pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and heroin; 500 grams or more of cocaine; 10 grams or more of carfentanil; and 10 grams or more of 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl. He also pleaded guilty to 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.

From October 2018 through March 2019, Rodriguez Then and another individual were leaders of an organization that distributed fentanyl, fentanyl analogue and other substances in and around Lawrence.

Rodriguez Then and the other individual employed a third member, who was tasked with staying at a stash house and serving as a courier for the organization.

During the investigation, a confidential source conducted three controlled purchases of suspected fentanyl from the organization during which Rodriguez Then and the other leader obtained the order and collected payment from the confidential source. The courier brought the requested suspected fentanyl pills. For two of these transactions, the pills distributed tested positive for fentanyl. For the third transaction, the pills distributed by Rodriguez Then tested positive for fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl analogue.

On March 13, 2019, two search warrants were executed in Lawrence. At one location, where Rodriguez Then resided, a wall hide in Rodriguez Then’s master bedroom was found to have contained $7,010 in suspected drug proceeds, a loaded .22 caliber Smith and Wesson firearm and multiple fake identification cards bearing the defendant’s likeness.

A rental lease for the stash house was also located in Rodriguez Then’s residence. During a search warrant executed at the stash house, among other things, multiple hidden compartments/wall hides containing drugs and drug paraphernalia were located, including approximately 2,074 grams of fentanyl, 732 grams of heroin, 2,333 grams of cocaine and 448.4 grams of carfentanil.

“The seriousness of Mr. Rodriguez’s crimes cannot be overstated,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “He was a leader of a drug distribution organization that brought fentanyl and fentanyl analogue into our communities. For the last several years, the United States as a whole and Massachusetts in particular have been plagued by an opioid epidemic that has taken an alarming number of lives and has destroyed countless families and communities.

“In 2021, 80,816 people died from opioid-related overdoses in the United States — the equivalent of 221 deaths per day. In Massachusetts alone we lost 2,301 of our loved ones. My office will continue to do everything we can to protect our communities from this deadly crisis.”

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