News Release
August 7, 2006

Two Worcester County Men Plead Guilty To Drug Charges

Worcester, MA... Two Worcester County men pleaded guilty last week to federal drug charges. The cases were the result of a multi-agency investigation, called “Operation Grand Slam,” into the distribution of cocaine base, commonly known as “crack”, throughout the northern part of Worcester County.

June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England, United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Mark Laverdure, Chief of the Clinton Police Department, announced that MANUEL ENRIQUE RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a “Carmelo Figueroa,” age 31, of 62 Chocksett Road, Sterling, pleaded guilty Thursday, August 3, 2006, before U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor, IV to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute crack, two counts of distribution of crack, and one count of possession with intent to distribute crack.

On Wednesday, August 2, 2006, ARTURO NUNEZ, age 30, of 50 West Street, Leominster, pleaded guilty before Judge Saylor to an indictment charging him with two counts of distributing crack.

At RODRIGUEZ’s plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that, had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have proven that during an undercover operation, investigators purchased over 100 grams of crack cocaine from RODRIGUEZ and a co-defendant in October 2005 and January 2006. Upon execution of a search warrant at RODRIGUEZ’s Sterling residence, agents recovered over 90 grams of crack cocaine and over 100 grams of cocaine.

At NUNEZ’s plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that NUNEZ sold crack cocaine to undercover investigators on two occasions - 5 grams on July 5, 2005 and 50 grams on August 9, 2005.

Both defendants were arrested on January 20, 2006, in connection with the charges and have remained in custody since that time.

Judge Saylor scheduled RODRIGUEZ's sentencing for November 16, 2006, at 2:00 p.m. NUNEZ is scheduled to be sentenced on November 20, 2006 at 3:00 p.m. Both defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in prison and up to a maximum of life. RODRIGUEZ also faces deportation to his native Dominican Republic after serving any prison sentence imposed.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Task Force in Worcester, with the assistance of the Clinton Police Department and the North Worcester County Drug Task Force.