BOSTON — A Lawrence man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to distributing 100 grams or more of heroin.

Orlando Breton Mercado, 44, pleaded guilty to distribution of and possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Sept. 30,  Mercado was arrested and charged in November 2018, and has been in custody since that time.

According to the charging documents, in July 2018, agents began investigating Mercado for drug trafficking, and on Nov. 20, 2018, they conducted an undercover controlled purchase from Mercado of nearly one kilogram of heroin. Mercado was subsequently arrested.

The charge of distribution of 100 grams or more of heroin carries a minimum mandatory sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $5 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon federal sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling and Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement. Assistance was provided by the Salem Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea E. Porter of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.