BOSTON — The leader of a heroin and fentanyl trafficking organization that operated in Taunton was sentenced Monday in federal court in Boston.

Fernando Hernandez, 43, who last resided in Providence, RI, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin to 188 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On Nov. 6, 2017, Hernandez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl. In February 2017, Hernandez was arrested and charged along with 22 co-defendants.

From mid-2016 through February 2017, federal law enforcement investigated two drug trafficking organizations operating in Taunton and Boston, one allegedly led by Jose Antonio Lugo-Guerrero, and the other led by Hernandez. Hernandez’s organization was based in Taunton and sold heroin and fentanyl to customers who re-distributed a portion of the drugs they obtained. It is alleged that Hernandez obtained drugs from a network of suppliers that included Lugo-Guerrero.

The court found that Hernandez was responsible for distributing more than a kilogram of heroin over a two-month period in the summer of 2016, and that he was the leader of the organization that involved more than five other participants.

Hernandez has a number of prior criminal convictions, that include two drug possessions, four drug distributions, eight assaults, three threats, two abuse prevention act violations, and one kidnapping.

Lugo-Guerrero has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2018.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Michael Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Fall River Police Chief Albert F. Dupere; New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro; Taunton Police Chief Edward James Walsh; Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans; Bridgewater Police Chief Christopher Delmonte; and Bristol Country District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Heinrich of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.

--U.S. Attorney’s Office