MANCHESTER, NH – A years-long investigation involving numerous law enforcement agencies resulted in the dismantling of a highly organized cocaine and fentanyl drug ring operating for at least four years out of Manchester and Boston, authorities announced Wednesday.
The immediate end to the sophisticated drug operation caused enough concern for the city to deploy its Rapid Overdose Assessment Response Team. Mayor Joyce Craig said that was to “reduce the harm that this change in supply could create and connect those in need to resources and treatment.
So far, 21 people are under federal indictment in U.S. District Court in Concord and one other person is charged. In the past 1 ½ days, 12 were arrested on conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, according to U.S. Attorney Jane Young.
She headed a news conference held Wednesday afternoon at the Manchester Police Department announcing the drug bust.
Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg said to his knowledge this is the largest drug bust ever for his department. Young said she did not know the monetary value of the drugs trafficked.
The drug ring was dealing in kilogram amounts of fentanyl, authorities said.
In making the arrests, law enforcement officers seized various suspected drugs including 1.6 kilograms of cocaine; 150 grams of cocaine (about a third of a pound), 250 grams (about a half-pound) of fentanyl, 100 bags of controlled substances package for sale, $26,000 in cash and four firearms.
The drug ring allegedly was headed by Juan Ramon Soto Baez (also known as “Ricky”), 53, of Dorchester, Mass. He has agreed to be detained, Young said.
She said the takedown of the drug enterprise should send a message to other Massachusetts drug traffickers. “This will be your fate,” she said.
According to the indictment, for more than four years Manchester police regularly received information from numerous drug users and dealers that “Ricky” was running a drug ring that used several dispatch phones to receive orders from drug users.
Trusted drug ring members operated those phones, sending lower-level workers (runners) to meet with customers and conduct hand-to-hand sales of primarily fentanyl and cocaine.
Over time, investigators learned there were usually three dispatch phones in simultaneous operation, each used by a different drug trafficking organization (DTO) lieutenant.
Using five different cooperating sources, investigators made controlled drug buys via the dispatch phones. Since mid-2022, investigators made more than 50 drug purchases. Most tested for fentanyl or cocaine, but occasionally the drugs would test positive for tramadol, heroin, cocaine hydrochloride and fentanyl analogues.
Investigators discovered most of the drug ring’s leaders and lieutenants, and some of its runners, lived in Boston but frequently traveled to Manchester, sometimes on a daily basis to sell the drugs.
The ring was, in some ways, a family-run business, according to the indictment. Osvaldo Soto Jimenez, a/k/a “Toni,” 29, of Dorchester, is Baez’s son. Flemin Soto Baez, a/k/a “Carlos,” a/k/a “Joel Rodriguez, 38, of Manchester, is Baez’s brother.
The drug organization also was disciplined and consistent. It operated on a daily basis, generally between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
From July 2022 to March 2023, Flemin Soto Baez controlled one of the dispatch phones, according to court papers. During that time, he made 14 controlled purchases, directing three different runners to complete the sales. When he was arrested at one of the addresses linked to the drug ring, investigators found two firearms.
During the summer of 2022, Angel Leonel Fuentes Pizarro, 42, of Boston, controlled another dispatch phone, making two controlled purchases. Later, he reappeared as a runner, completing numerous transactions, including controlled purchases, arranged through the dispatch phone generally operated by Flemin Soto Baez.
Luis Maldonado, a/k/a “Tony,” 48, of Manchester, is known by Manchester police as a fentanyl and crack cocaine dealer. He was arrested in May 2022 on outstanding warrants. When he was searched, police recovered 3.6 grams of fentanyl on him and found $13,000 in cash and a digital scale in his backpack.
His phone was later searched and revealed many text messages indicative of drug distribution. Maldonado is also associated with an address in Boston known as a “stash house” for the drug ring, from which about a kilogram of suspected cocaine was seized.
Others indicted, who are from Manchester, include Maria Camacho, a/k/a “Christina,” 43; Katie Girgus, 29; Daniel Beldin, 33; Victor Aria Mejia, 38, and Alesha Neault, 37. Camacho, Beldin, Mejia and Neault have yet to be arrested.
Each of the 21 defendants is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled drugs which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The DEA, FBI and Manchester police headed the investigation. Assistance was provided by the US. Marshal Service, NH State Police, Nashua and Boston police, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the NH Department of Corrections, Probation & Parole.
Assistant U.S. attorneys Aaron Gingrande and Jarad Hodes are prosecuting the cases.
Others named in the indictment:
- Antonio Aguasvivas aka “Toni”, 27, of Providence, Rhode Island. Aguasvivas is in custody.
- Melissa Rey Ramos aka “Ralphie”, 34, of Peabody, Massachusetts. Rey Ramos is in custody.
- Alejandro Reyes Rosado, 29, of UNKNOWN.
- Yefris Cruz Andujar, 23, of Providence, Rhode Island.
- Hidequell Gonzalez Viscaino, 22, of Waterbury, Connecticut.
- Nickolas Starkey, 34, of Manchester, New Hampshire. Starkey is in custody.
- Dari Rafael Baez Martinez aka “Chino”, 32, of Boston, Massachusetts. Baez Martinez is in custody.
- Leander Jose Rivera Soto, 28, of Boston, Massachusetts.
- Gabriel Hernandez, 30, of Boston, Massachusetts. Hernandez is in custody.
- Jose Cordero Ortiz, 37, of Boston, Massachusetts.
- Jhonattan Jimenez, 36, of Boston, Massachusetts.
- Brandon Rivera, 21, of Boston, Massachusetts. Rivera is in custody.