CONCORD, N.H. — Sergio Martinez, 29, of Lawrence pleaded guilty Tuesday to leading a continuing criminal enterprise and participating in a money laundering conspiracy based on his role in a Lawrence fentanyl-dealing organization, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray.
The plea agreement, if accepted by the judge at sentencing, will require Martinez to serve a 45-year prison sentence and forfeit $2 million in cash, as well as three houses in Lawrence, according to the statement.
The guilty plea came on the sixth day of a jury trial.
A total of 34 individuals were charged with participating in this conspiracy, Murray stated.
“The evidence in this case demonstrates that Lawrence-based fentanyl traffickers have made huge profits from pumping large quantities of deadly fentanyl into New Hampshire,” Murray said. “Mr. Martinez ran a sophisticated marketing operation that served as a conduit between the Mexican drug cartels and customers in northern New England. This was a complex case in which the entire law enforcement community worked together to bring high-level fentanyl traffickers to justice. The end result should serve as a warning to those who choose to sell fentanyl in the Granite State.”
During the trial, which began on Oct. 1, the government presented evidence that Martinez operated a fentanyl dealing ring that employed numerous individuals who sold fentanyl to customers from various New England states, including New Hampshire, according to the statement.
Testimony at trial showed that customers knew the Martinez organization by the name “Brian” and that most of the organization’s customers came from New Hampshire, according to Murray. Distributors knew to identify customers on the streets of Lawrence by their New Hampshire license plates, according to the statement.
Testimony at trial showed that the organization served three distinct sets of customers, according to Murray.
The first group of customers, who ordered the smallest amounts of drugs, was served by various telephones (“small phones”) that were located in a specific residence and answered by dispatchers, according to the statement.
This residence was referred to as “the base” and dispatchers staffed “the base” from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, according to Murray. Dispatchers took orders and directed customers to meet various distributors throughout the Merrimack Valley, mostly in Lawrence or Haverhill, but sometimes in Salem, New Hampshire, according to Murray's statement.
These phones usually received hundreds of calls daily from customers placing fentanyl orders, according to Murray. Street-level distributors were provided with 200-gram bags of fentanyl, which they sold for $30 per gram, generating $6,000 per bag of fentanyl sold, according to the statement. Distributors testified at trial that they sometimes had lines of 10 to 15 customers, most with New Hampshire license plates, waiting for them on the street, Murray said.
A second set of customers was serviced by the so-called “big phone,” according to the statement. The big phone was reserved for customers who typically purchased between 10 and 200 grams of fentanyl at a time, quantities which the purchasers would then distribute themselves, Murray said. The defendant and his brother Raulin Martinez answered this telephone, took orders, and sent these customers to meet a different set of distributors, according to Murray's statement.
They promised these customers better and faster service than they received if they called the small phones, Murray said. These phones received between approximately 50 and 100 calls daily, according to the statement.
A third, much smaller set of customers, who ordered particularly large quantities of fentanyl (usually one kilogram or more at a time) called the defendant directly to place orders, Murray said. The organization would deliver directly to these individuals by sending a distributor, often in a taxi, to deliver to these customers at or near their residences, according to the statement.
Trial testimony showed that Martinez managed numerous individuals, including between five and 10 runners working each day, people who staffed “the base” answering telephones, and people who mixed and packaged the drugs in milling operations he operated at different locations in Lawrence. The jury was provided with evidence showing that investigators seized more than 12 kilograms of fentanyl from the Martinez organization during the investigation, according to Murray's statement.
During one telephone call intercepted over a court-authorized wiretap and played at trial, Martinez spoke to a man who identified himself as a fentanyl supplier located in Sinaloa, Mexico, according to Murray.
Martinez told him, “What I look for is quality for when I prepare it and give it to people. Because I’m one of those people that’s moving a lot here. I move between 15, to 30, to 35 kilos a month,” according to the statement.
In other intercepted telephone calls played at trial, Martinez acknowledged the dangerous nature of the drug he distributed, noting that “what we give out is poison,” according to the statement.
Evidence at trial showed that Martinez received substantial income from his business and that he sent some of this money to the Dominican Republic, according to Murray's statement.
Drug runners testified that they provided the defendant with between $30,000 and $35,000 per day based on aggregate drug sales, Murray said. On one occasion, the defendant was stopped by the police while transporting $400,494 in cash that he intended to send to the Dominican Republic, according to the statement. This money was seized by the DEA.
The plea agreement includes a forfeiture of $2 million, including funds in two bank accounts in the Dominican Republic in Martinez’s name, according to Murray's statement.
Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28.
Martinez is the last of various co-conspirators to plead guilty. The following individuals previously pleaded guilty, according to the statement, and are awaiting sentencing:
· Miguel Alvarez, 38, of Haverhill pleaded guilty Jan. 31. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19.
· Eduard Amparo, 47, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Aug. 29. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 16.
· Edward Brailey Delacruz, 25, of Methuen, plead guilty June 24. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 16.
· Edward Brito, 32, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty July 10. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.
· Julio Colon, 25, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty on Sept. 30. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 28.
· Luz DeJesus, 34, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Jan. 31. Her sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 15.
· Juan Dimel Gil Castillo, 25, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Feb. 6. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 27.
· Ramon Gil Huma, 26, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty March 11. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 12.
· Steven Lessard, 31, of Lowell, pleaded guilty Sept. 30. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2020.
· Henry Marte, 22, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Jan. 25. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.
· Raulin Martinez, 37, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Dec. 7, 2018. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29.
· Fernand Miranda, 24, of Haverhill, pleaded guilty Sept. 16. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 2, 2020.
· Jared Ortega-Peguero, 26, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Dec. 6, 2018. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19.
· Suhey Perez, 40, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty May 2. Her sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 18.
· Luz Perez DeMartinez, 27, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Feb. 12. Her sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19.
· Wagner Pimentel, 29, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty March 15. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19.
· Luis Angel Polanco Huma, 23, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Aug. 14. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 27.
· Jorge Rodriguez, 22, of Methuen, pleaded guilty Feb. 28. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 15.
· Luis Antonio Salomon Polanco, 21, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty March 11. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 18;
· Juan Rafael Tejada-Jimenez, 39, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Nov. 29. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 22.
In addition to the defendants listed above, nine other defendants have pleaded guilty and already have been sentenced. Four defendants remain fugitives, according to Murray's statement.
In addition to these defendants, 13 New Hampshire-based individuals who obtained fentanyl from this organization have been charged with drug trafficking offenses. Twelve of those individuals have pleaded guilty and one is still awaiting trial, according to Murray's statement.
“DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling large scale drug trafficking organizations like this one operating in Lawrence led by Mr. Martinez,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “Fentanyl distribution destroys people’s lives and wreaks havoc in our communities. DEA and our law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue any individual or organization that distributes this poison.”
The investigation was conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The force's program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.
The case was a collaborative investigation that involved the DEA, the New Hampshire State Police, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Nashua Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, United States Customs and Border Protection Boston Field Office, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Manchester Police Department, the Lisbon Police Department, the Littleton Police Department, the Seabrook Police Department, the Haverhill Police Department, the Methuen Police Department, the Lowell Police Department, and the Maine State Police.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Georgiana L. Konesky and Seth R. Aframe.