PROVIDENCE, RI – A Project Safe Neighborhoods investigation that brought together thirty-six federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and resulted in federal charges against twenty-three people and the seizure of thirteen kilograms of fentanyl, eleven kilograms of cocaine, eleven kilograms of marijuana and two kilograms of psilocyn mushroom were recognized today with a national award from the Task Force on Combating Organized Crime (OCDEFT).

The twenty-three individuals were convicted by the United States District Court in Providence and sentenced to federal prison.

The eight-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Panamera,” drew on the combined expertise of the Rhode Island DEA Drug Task Force, the Cape Cod DEA Drug Task Force and the High Intensity Drug Task Force (HIDTA). Trafficking Area) of the Rhode Island State Police. whose joint work dismantled a drug trafficking organization that imported hundreds of kilograms of fentanyl and cocaine from Mexico and Puerto Rico and redistributed them to drug traffickers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont .

In addition to tens of kilograms of fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, law enforcement also seized $ 60,000 in cash, ten vehicles and a handgun.

“This award is a testament to two things: the results that flow from effective coordination among our law enforcement partners and the commitment of these agencies to dismantle and disrupt significant drug trafficking in our state and region. “said US Attorney Zachary A. Cunha. . “I am happy to see the team rightly recognized by this award. “

“The DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling international drug trafficking organizations at the highest level. Drug trafficking and the violence associated with it pose a serious threat to New England communities, ”said Brian D. Boyle, special agent in charge of the New England field division of the DEA. “This investigation is a shining example of the DEA and our federal, state and local counterparts coming together to bring to justice those who commit these crimes. I am proud of the work accomplished in this survey, not only by the members of the DEA, but by everyone involved in each of our partner agencies.

“I am proud of the work our soldiers do every day to keep illegal narcotics out of our neighborhoods,” said Col. James M. Manni, Rhode Island State Police Superintendent and Department Director. public safety. “Today, I am particularly pleased that their efforts – along with those of thirty-five other law enforcement partners – were recognized with an award from the Working Groups on Combating Organized Crime. Kudos to our soldiers and others involved in Operation Panamera who dismantled a major drug trafficking operation and made our state more secure. “

RI DEA, Cape Cod DEA and HIDTA RI Working Group officers and officers honored today at an OECDFT New England Advisory Board meeting held virtually include:

Richard Atwood United States. Postal inspection service

James Burns Pembroke, Massachusetts Police Department

Mario Cerullo Rhode Island State Police (HIDTA)

Kristopher Dees Middleboro, Massachusetts Police Department

Daniel Hernandez Rhode Island State Police (HIDTA)

Alexander Koumanelis Drug Enforcement Administration

Sam Masiello Drug Enforcement Administration

Andrea Metz Drug Enforcement Administration

Michael Rusciano Drug Enforcement Administration (posthumously)

Lindsay Beltzer Legal Assistant, Office of the United States Attorney

The defendants indicted in this case were prosecuted by Assistant US Prosecutor Paul F. Daly, Jr., with the assistance of Assistant US Prosecutors Milind M. Shah and Stacey P. Veroni.

The Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice‘s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program that has been shown to be effective in reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a wide range of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses its enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with local prevention and reintegration programs for sustainable crime reduction.

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