Massachusetts man indicted for alleged fentanyl trafficking in NH

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MANCHESTER, NH — A former Haverhill, Mass., man is under indictment as a drug enterprise leader of a fentanyl ring that trafficked drugs through northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire for 18 months.

Ramon Rivera Muniz, 32, currently being detained in the Northern NH Correctional Facility in Berlin, was also indicted by a Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District, grand jury for conspiring to sell drugs, subsequent offense.

If convicted of the drug enterprise leader charge, Muniz faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison and up to a life sentence.  He also faces a fine not to exceed $500,000 or five times the street value of the controlled drugs involved.

Named in the indictment as co-conspirators are Jonathan Betancourt; Samantha Bidwell; Jason Candelario; Valeria Vanessa Cartagena Toro, a/k/a Sayra Miguelina Ramirez Cruz; Justin Fleming, Joseph Grasso; Justin Hendley; Freddy Muniz , a/k/a John Santiago; Mackenzie Ramos; Benny Ranes, and Brian Rutherford.

The 13-page conspiracy indictment against Muniz says he is also known as Juan Guerrero, 38, and Johan Manuel Tejada Guerrero, 36.

The indictments are the result of a months-long, cross-border investigation in Massachusetts and New Hampshire involving federal, state, county and local law enforcement.  Arrested in June were:

  • Muniz, 31, two outstanding warrants from Hillsborough County-North for a parole violation and possession of a controlled drug (fentanyl) with intent to distribute.
  • Rutherford, 22, of Bedford, on a charge of conspiracy to possess a controlled drug (fentanyl) with intent to sell.
  • Ramos, 25, of Amherst, possession of a controlled drug (fentanyl) with intent to sell.
  • Bidwell, 30, of Ashland, possession of a controlled drug (fentanyl) with the intent to sell.
  • Toro, 24, of Haverhill, conspiracy to sell a controlled drug (fentanyl).
  • Betancourt, 29, of Lawrence, four counts of sale of a controlled drug (fentanyl).

The investigation began in Pelham when detectives learned Betancourt planned to expand his alleged drug operation.

According to the indictments, the drug operation ran from Jan. 1, 2018 until June 27, 2019, when law enforcement made the arrests.

On Sept. 1, 2018, Nathan Albertson, incarcerated in the Northern NH Correctional Facility in Berlin, put Jason Candelario in contact with Muniz to buy fentanyl.  Benny Ranes, also jailed in Berlin, put Justin Fleming in contact with Muniz for the same reason.

Ultimately, the dealers would travel to Massachusetts to buy the drugs from Muniz, return to the Granite State and sell them, then go back to the Bay State to pay what was owed and get more drugs.

Law enforcement in various communities was watching them for months.  On April 1 of this year, Rutherford unknowingly sold 10 grams of fentanyl to a confidential informant of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the indictments.

On three occasions,  Trevor Philips, Joseph Grasso and/or Margaret Herrmann allegedly sold a total of 258.9 grams of fentanyl to a confidential informant of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department.

Muniz allegedly sold the drugs out of his 18 Observatory Ave. residence in Haverhill.   Muniz, believing police were close to finding him out, in mid-June began storing and hiding the drugs at Betancourt’s residence at 9 Providence St., Lawrence.

When authorities raided Betancourt’s residence on June 27, they recovered drug paraphernalia, a .32 caliber Beretta Tomcat handgun; a “finger press” for packaging, and a “cutting agent” to prepare drugs for distribution.

A search warrant for Muniz’s residence in Haverhill resulted in police confiscating 1,805.5 grams of fentanyl, with a street value of up to nearly $145,000.  They also recovered a hydraulic press for packaging drugs; multiple “finger presses;” multiple bottles of cutting agents, and a Glock handgun.

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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.