Willard: Lawrence fentanyl sweep makes ‘significant dent’ in Manchester’s drug pipeline

Four NH residents, including one from Manchester, were included in the arrests.

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Some of the drug evidence collected by Lawrence, Mass., Police in the major fentanyl bust on May 30.

MANCHESTER, NH. – A major drug sweep in Lawrence, Mass., on Tuesday was a major win for those in the crime-fighting trenches right here in Manchester. 

“The round-up is a significant dent in our efforts to dismantle the source of the drugs coming into New Hampshire,” said Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard. “These individuals we arrested were sourcing the drugs that were coming into our state. This is a significant round-up.”

Chief Nick Willard

Among the 30 people arrested May 30 were four from New Hampshire, including one man from Manchester [see arrest list below].

Willard said Manchester was involved in the investigation as part of the HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas) Strike Force, which includes Manchester and Nashua police departments, NH State Police, DEA, FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office. 

“What we’re doing is all-encompassing. We’re not just going after low-level drug dealers eroding the quality of life in a particular neighborhood. While we’re doing that we’re also going after significant drug dealers sourcing drugs into our state – that’s what is significant here about the Lawrence sweep. We are investigating every day, and members of the strike force are targeting high-end drug dealers who are making significant money off the drug appetite in New Hampshire, putting poison on our streets and killing American citizens every day,” Willard said.

News on May 30 that Willard’s former boss, retired Manchester Police Chief David Mara, was appointed by Gov. Chris Sununu to be the state’s next drug czar is also heartening, Willard said.

Jim Vara has done a great job, and I’m happy for him moving to another position. I’m also very happy with Governor Sununu’s selection in Chief Mara. It clearly shows Gov. Sununu is thoughtful about how he’s going to approach the opiate crisis here in New Hampshire, and the addition of Chief Mara is a significant step toward continuing down that road,” Willard said. 

Below is the full press release issued May 30 by the Massachusett’s U.S. Attorney’s office:

BOSTON, MASS. – Thirty individuals have been charged with federal drug, gun and immigration charges and two others have been charged with state drug and gun charges for their role in the distribution of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine in and around the Lawrence area. 

More than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers were involved in a federal sweep on May 30 that was the culmination of a yearlong investigation dubbed “Operation Bad Company,” aimed at attacking the fentanyl and heroin problem in the Lawrence area.  The defendants are alleged to have controlled and managed a lucrative and sophisticated drug trafficking and distribution ring in the region.  

The following people were charged in federal indictments unsealed Tuesday by the Massachusett’s U.S. Attorney’s Office:

  1. Juan Anibal Patrone, a/k/a Juan Anibal, a/k/a Juan Anibal Patrone-Gonzalez, a/k/a Flaco, a/k/a Poppo, a/k/a Carlos, 26, a resident of Lawrence, dual citizen of the Dominican Republic and Italy
  2. Domingo Gonzalez Martinez, a/k/a Guega, 26, a resident of Lawrence, from the Dominican Republic
  3. Oscar Francisco Marcano Valverde, a/k/a Oscar Marcado, a/k/a Oscar Malcano, 38, a Dominican national and former resident of Haverhill, currently in custody at Bristol County House of Corrections
  4. Josuel Moises Patrone-Gonzalez, a/k/a Coqui, a/k/a Kiko, 22, resident of Lawrence, dual citizen of the Dominican Republic and Italy
  5. Luis F. Lugo, 20, of Lawrence
  6. Victor Alexander Gonzalez-Gonzalez, a/k/a Alex, 24, Dominican national residing in Lawrence
  7. Daniel Diaz, 34, of Lawrence, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections 
  8. Luis A. Perez-Tomassini, 29, of Lawrence
  9. Leonel Vives, 30, of Methuen
  10. Santo Marino Nivar-Tejeda, a/k/a Mello, 46, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
  11. Andreury Fana Burgos, a/k/a Andreury Fanas, 21, a resident of Lawrence, from the Dominican Republic
  12. Lacey Picariello, 33, of Burlington, Mass.
  13. Matthew Shover, 29, of Sandown, NH, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections
  14. Rafael Omar Arias-Rodriguez, a/k/a Prieto Tita, 37, of Lawrence
  15. Rafael Arce, 46, of Lawrence
  16. Reynaldo Duran Lora, 23, of Lawrence
  17. Stacey Littlefield, 41, of Rochester, NH
  18. Melvin Weatherspoon, 57, of Rochester NH
  19. Euclides Alcantara, 49, a resident of Methuen, from the Dominican Republic  
  20. Ramon Gonzalez Nival, a/k/a Santo Ramon Gonzalez Nivar, a/k/a Santo Marino Gonzalez-Nival, a/k/a Santo Marino Guerrero Ruiz, a/k/a Luis Rivera, a/k/a Richard Romero, a/k/a Ismael Rivera-Ayala, a/k/a Caballito, a/k/a Ramoncito, a/k/a Caballo, 40, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
  21. Jose Rosado Sanchez, a/k/a Chiquito, a/k/a Pequeno, a/k/a Luis D. Resto, a/k/a Timothy O’Leary, a/k/a Luis Vega Martinez, 46 (true identity unknown)
  22. Julio Baez Gonzalez, a/k/a Manolo, 34, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
  23. Ruddy Rafael Soto Lara, a/k/a Flor Saez Guzman, a/k/a Yernan Freight, a/k/a Rafael Ruddy, a/k/a Manuel Gonzalez, a/k/a Flor Saez, a/k/a Jorge Navarez, a/k/a Peje, 38, a Dominican national, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections
  24. Geronimo Confesor Gonzalez Nivar, a/k/a Geronimo Gonzalez-Nival, a/k/a Geronimo Ruiz-Gonzalez; a/k/a Alexie, a/k/a Jaboa, 35, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
  25. Carlos Hernandez, a/k/a Gordo, 34, of Lawrence, currently in custody at Essex House of Corrections
  26. Rory Connolly, 33, of Manchester, NH
  27. Bernaldo Rosario Santiago, a/k/a Bori, 25, of Lowell
  28. Diosmary Burgos, 39, resident of Lawrence, from the Dominican Republic
  29. Caonablo Mayobanex Pol Montero, a/k/a Cesar Eliel Echavarria Navarez, a/k/a Ely Manzano, a/k/a Mayo Baney Pol; a/k/a Mayo Pol; a/k/a Eddie Soto; a/k/a Jorge Mercado; a/k/a Israel Cortes; a/k/a Israel Cortez; a/k/a Ismael Guerra Cortez; a/k/a Ismael Cortez; a/k/a Israel P. Cortez; a/k/a Ismael Guerra; a/k/a Jorge L. Santiago; a/k/a Albertoz Vasquez; a/k/a Mayo Baney Montero; a/k/a Mayo Bane Montero; a/k/a Bani, 45, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence
  30. Shawn Keefe, 27, of Lowell

Four additional individuals were taken into custody on administrative immigration charges and will appear in immigration court. The Essex County District Attorney’s Office charged the following individuals with distribution of fentanyl:

  1. Leonny Burgos, of Lawrence
  2. Miriam Roche, of Lawrence

The drug statute provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison; the firearm statute provides for no more than 10 years in prison; the unlawful re-entry after deportation statute provides for no more than 10 years in prison.  Defendants who are charged with unlawful re-entry after deportation are subject to deportation after serving any sentence imposed.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Michal J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Division; Matthew J. Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick made the announcement today at a press conference. The DEA Cross Border Initiative, comprised by the DEA and the Andover, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, and Wilmington Police Departments, conducted the investigation jointly with the Massachusetts State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Winkler of Weinreb’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

About this Author


Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!