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Two New Bedford Men Plead Guilty in Connection to Massive Drug Ring

Drug user taking in heroin with syringe
Burlingham/Getty Images

NEW BEDFORD – Two New Bedford men have pleaded guilty in federal court in connection to a drug ring that covered much of Bristol County and Providence, Rhode Island.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 26-year-old Eric DeSousa pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and three counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute. 40-year-old Tyson DePina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and three counts of possession of heroin with the intent to distribute.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on July 13.

According to court documents, DePina had been receiving heroin from former New Bedford gym owner Sharik Mendes, who was sentenced in federal court for heroin trafficking in January. In the spring of 2016, DePina began receiving heroin from Eric DeSousa.

In mid-April, investigators witnessed DeSousa distribute heroin to DePina. DePina was soon arrested with heroin in his possession. However, during the arrest process, DePina fled and tried to destroy the drugs. An officer in pursuit became covered in the heroin and was taken to the hospital. The heroin contained the deadly drug fentanyl, according to a lab test.

On June 6, 2016, investigators saw DeSousa attempt to deliver heroin to a customer in New Bedford. DeSousa was arrested and a warrant was obtained for his house, where police found 300 grams of heroin/fentanyl mixture and more than $8,000 in cash.

DeSousa could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million for the charges he faces. DePina could face up to 40 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million.

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