BOSTON — Ten people caught last month in a massive drug bust — in which authorities seized nearly 15 kilograms of suspected fentanyl from a Fall River base — have been indicted on drug conspiracy charges.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the suspects were indicted Wednesday for their alleged involvement in a large-scale drug trafficking organization that sold fentanyl all over Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Of the ten suspects, three are from New Bedford, one is from Taunton, and one from Yarmouth, with the others all hailing from Providence or Cranston, Rhode Island.

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All ten have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, which can carry sentences of 10 years to life in prison.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said authorities seized 14.9 kilograms of suspected fentanyl and "substantial amounts" of cash in the drug bust and subsequent arrests in late July.

According to the office, law enforcement started investigating the large-scale operation allegedly led by 36-year-old Providence man Estarlin Ortiz-Alcantara in March 2021.

Intercepted cell phone communications allegedly identified several other Rhode Island men as members of the organization, who prosecutors say regularly distributed multiple kilograms of fentanyl out of a Fall River stash house.

These include 49-year-old Cranston man Mario Rafael Dominguez-Ortiz as well as Yeury Francisco Garcia-Rodriguez, 32, Rafael Cesar Cabreja Jimenez, 27, and Alfredo Valdez, 44, all of Providence.

The other people charged — all Massachusetts residents — are accused of being regular customers of the organization, who allegedly bought fentanyl and then redistributed it to their own local customer bases in Cape Cod, New Bedford, and Taunton.

These alleged customers are 36-year-old Yarmouth resident Rebecca Bartholomew and 43-year-old Michael Pacheco of Taunton as well as Jose Santiago, 45, Edwin Collazo, 26, and Jason Cruz, 41, all of New Bedford.

All ten suspects face sentences of between 10 years and life in prison, at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a maximum $10 million fine.

Prosecutors say organization members conducted drug transactions with the Massachusetts customers in public areas, including in a store's diaper aisle and in supermarket parking lots.

The drug dealers also allegedly transported fentanyl hidden in cereal boxes while accompanied by a child on at least one occasion, according to the office.

Along with the drug conspiracy charges, Ortiz-Alcantara, Cabreja Jimenez, and Valdez are also charged with possession with intent to distribute 400 or more grams of fentanyl.

Collazo and Pacheco are also charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

"Today’s indictment is another step towards dismantling what we believe to be a substantial drug trafficking organization that pumped deadly fentanyl into neighborhoods throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island — including the Providence, New Bedford, Taunton and Cape Cod areas,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.

"My office is committed to prosecuting fentanyl traffickers to the fullest extent of the law for their deadly business."

“DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling drug trafficking organizations and the individuals who are responsible for distributing lethal drugs like fentanyl to the citizens of Massachusetts," Special Agent in Charge of DEA's New England Field Division Brian Boyle commented.

"Let these sentences be a warning to those traffickers who are distributing this poison in order to profit and destroy people’s lives."

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