AP NEWS

Drug-ring Leader Gets 12 Years in Prison

May 8, 2019

LOWELL -- The leader of a Lawrence-based drug ring with ties to the Greater Lowell area was recently sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and will face deportation upon completion of his sentence, authorities say.

Juan Anibal Patrone, 29, a Dominican national, formerly of Lawrence, “ran his organization like a business,” distributing multiple kilos of fentanyl and cocaine to customers as far away as Maine, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.

Patrone sold drugs out of Lawrence’s Corniel Market, the release states. He personally paid rent for stash houses, at 277 Merrimack St., and 20 Cambridge St., in Lawrence, where he paid family members to prepare and package the drugs.

Patrone ran a crew of couriers, including some who worked in cars and others who walked the streets, according to the release.

In May 2017, a large-scale law enforcement drug sweep, dubbed “Operation Bad Company,” dismantled Patrone’s operation and another led by Santo Ramon Gonzalez Nival. Gonzalez Nival was a source of supply for Patrone, the release states.

Patrone, Gonzalez Nival, and 28 co-conspirators were arrested, including Bernaldo Rosario Santiago and Shawn Keefe, both of Lowell, and Lacey Picariello, of Burlington.

Kristina Mastropasqua, public affairs specialist from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, stated in an email Tuesday that Rosario Santiago, who was 25-years-old at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of supervised release for his role in the drug ring.

Keefe, who was 27-years-old at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to three years of probation for his role. Picariello, who was 33 in May 2017, was accepted to the RISE Recovery program and sentenced to time served and three years of supervised release, Mastropasqua said.

Those involved in the drug operation were said to have “controlled and managed a lucrative and sophisticated drug trafficking and distribution ring in the region,” prosecutors stated in a May 2017 press release issued after the massive drug bust.

Prior to his arrest, Patrone openly discussed the size of his drug business with others, Monday’s release said. In intercepted calls, Patrone admitted he had worked in the drug business for seven years and his plan was to return to the Dominican Republic, “get out of the drug business and live well,” the release adds.

In September 2018, Patrone pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and 400 grams or more of fentanyl. He also pleaded guilty to being an alien in possession of a firearm, after police found a loaded gun and ammunition in his home.

In addition to 12 years in federal prison, U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock sentenced Patrone this week to five years of supervised release. Efforts have also been made to freeze and forfeit Patrone’s assets in the Dominican Republic as part of his sentence.

Gonzalez Nival pleaded guilty and was sentenced in September 2018 to 135 months in prison, the release states.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis