DEC 14 (PROVIDENCE, R.I.) –John J. Arvanitis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island announced today that Juan Carlos Espejo Sanchez, 40, of Providence, R.I., and Doneri Aguilar Sandoval, 52, of Attleboro, Mass., have been ordered detained following initial appearances in federal court in Providence, charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. The defendants were charged as the result of an undercover DEA Worcester, Mass., Tactical Diversion Squad (DEA Task Force) investigation into the alleged trafficking and seizure of nearly fourteen kilos of crystal methamphetamine, worth an estimated $4.2 million.
According to court documents, Sanchez, a Mexican national, allegedly orchestrated the delivery of the drugs and payment for the drugs while detained at the Bristol County House of Corrections in New Bedford, Mass, on an alleged immigration matter. The drugs were allegedly shipped from California to Massachusetts, concealed inside a vehicle.
The seizure is the largest on record in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and the second largest on record in New England.
According to affidavits in support of criminal complaints filed with the court, in September 2012, the DEA Task Force developed information about the alleged trafficking of crystal meth and other controlled substances into New England. Working in an undercover capacity, DEA Task Force agents tracked a shipment of between 10-15 kilos of crystal meth into New England from California. The drugs were allegedly shipped in late November, concealed inside a hidden compartment of a vehicle shipped to an automobile storage facility in East Walpole, Mass.
On December 5, 2012, a Massachusetts State Police drug detection canine examined the vehicle at the storage facility and alerted investigators to the presence of narcotic drugs inside a hidden compartment above a rear wheel. The agents seized sixteen packages containing 13.75 kilos of crystal methamphetamine from the hidden compartment.
According to the affidavits, over the next several days, undercover DEA Task Force agents, posing as employees of the storage facility, made several attempts to contact the individual to whom the car was scheduled to be delivered. On December 10, 2012, a tow truck operator, following the instructions of a caller to the storage facility, attempted to deliver the vehicle to a residence in Attleboro, Mass., but delivery was refused. A short time later, an undercover DEA Task Force agent posing as an employee of the tow truck company was instructed by the recipient to return to the Attleboro address and to deliver the vehicle. Once at the Attleboro address, the tow truck driver was told that the vehicle was shipped to the wrong address and that it should instead be delivered to a residence in Randolph, Mass.
According to the affidavits, upon delivery of the vehicle to a residence in Randolph, undercover agents observed a vehicle allegedly owned by Sandoval canvasing the area. Shortly after the towed vehicle was dropped off at the Randolph residence, a confidential source working with the DEA Task Force allegedly received a telephone call alerting him to the fact that the shipment of crystal meth had arrived from California. They arranged to meet later that day at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., to allegedly complete the drug transaction. Sandoval was arrested by DEA Task Force agents during the meeting at Twin River Casino.
Following Sandavol’s arrest, a court authorized search of the Randolph residence resulted in the discovery of identification documents allegedly belonging to Juan Carlos Espejo Sanchez, who at the time was detained at Bristol County House of Corrections in New Bedford on an immigration matter. Agents also located a letter allegedly authored by Espejo Sanchez, in which he allegedly provided specific instructions regarding the sale and delivery of the drugs, and for receipt and distribution of the payment for the drugs.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The matter is being prosecuted in U.S. District Court in Providence by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul F. Daly Jr.
The DEA Worcester, Mass., Tactical Diversion Squad was assisted with the investigation by the Massachusetts State Police, and law enforcement officers from the Attleboro, Mass., Randolph, Mass., and Lincoln, R.I. Police Departments.
The DEA Worcester, Mass., Tactical Diversion Squad is comprised of law enforcement agents and officers from the DEA, the Norfolk County, Mass., Sheriff’s Office, and the Burlington, Douglas, North Andover, Plainville, Wellesley, and Worcester, Mass., Police Departments.