WORCESTER – Three men and one women from Worcester were arrested on Wednesday charged in federal court along with six additional defendants in connection with a joint federal and state investigation targeting narcotics trafficking in central Massachusetts.
Jose Ortiz, 57; Roberto Ortiz 58; and Gilberto Victoriano 51, all of Worcester, were each charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin and one count of conspiracy to violate the drug laws. The Ortiz brothers and Victoriano face a minimum of three and a half years in the House of Correction and up to 15 years in state prison. Caroline Cartagena, 43, of Worcester, was charged with one count of trafficking in over 200 grams of cocaine. She faces a minimum of 12 years in the House of Correction and up to 20 years in state prison.
The main targets of the investigation — Carlos Rodriguez, 42; Ernesto Rodriguez, 48; and Joshua Sanchez, 27, all of Lawrence, and Jorge Burgos, 39, of Leominster — were charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute in excess of 100 grams of heroin and fentanyl, possession with the intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl, and use of a telecommunications facility in furtherance of narcotics trafficking.
Sanchez and Burgos appeared in federal court in Worcester today and were ordered detained pending a detention hearing on Feb. 16, 2018. Carlos and Ernesto Rodriguez will appear in federal court in Worcester on Thursday.
Tina Murphy, 40, of Shirley, was charged with one count of distribution of fentanyl and one count of conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Murphy faces no greater than two and a half years in the House of Correction. The remaining defendant is still at-large.
According to federal court documents, as a result of various wiretaps capturing the defendants’ discussions of sales and purchases of heroin/fentanyl, in November and December 2017, law enforcement agents conducted surveillance of Burgos purchasing heroin for resale from Carlos Rodriguez, Ernesto Rodriguez, and others.
In addition, on Dec. 19, 2017, law enforcement stopped Sanchez after he left Carlos Rodriguez’s home and found Sanchez in possession of approximately 60 grams of suspected heroin/fentanyl. The following day, after intercepted communications suggested that Carlos Rodriguez would be delivering 50 grams of heroin to Burgos at his residence in Leominster, agents conducted a vehicle stop of the vehicle Carlos Rodriguez was driving and recovered approximately 50 grams of suspected heroin and/or fentanyl. Further investigation led to the recovery of at least 100 additional grams of suspected heroin and fentanyl from Ernesto Rodriguez. It is further alleged that intercepted communications captured Carlos Rodriguez discussing with Burgos how agents had stopped him on the way to Burgos’ residence and captured him discussing with another individual where to hide a firearm from authorities.
Additional intercepts of Burgos’ phone on Dec. 27, 2017, included discussions that agents believed to relate to a number of firearms hidden on Burgos’ property.
The charge of conspiring to distribute in excess of 100 grams of heroin provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $5 million. The charge of possession of heroin and fentanyl with the intent to distribute provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of use of a telecommunications device in furtherance of a narcotics offense provides for a sentence of no greater than four years in prison, up to one year 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 other statutory factors.