News Release
March 13, 2007

Fitchburg Man Sentenced to Over 20 Years
Imprisonment on Heroin and Gun Charges

MAR 13 -- BOSTON, MA - A Fitchburg man was sentenced today in federal court for conspiring to distribute over 1,000 grams of heroin, possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and possessing unregistered silencers.

June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England; United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Colonel Mark Delaney, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Kenneth E. Lavallee, Superintendent of the Lowell Police Department; and Kevin Richardson, Chief of the Dracut Police Department, announced that JULIO SANTIAGO, 48, of 264 Mechanic Street, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to 20 years and 6 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Judge Gorton also ordered SANTIAGO to forfeit $235,920. On October 27, 2006, a jury convicted SANTIAGO and four others of conspiracy to possess more than 1,000 grams of heroin with intent to distribute. The jury additionally found SANTIAGO guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of heroin trafficking and possession of unregistered silencers.

During this afternoon's sentencing hearing, Judge Gorton described SANTIAGO’s crime as “horrendous” and noted that there was simply no way to calculate the pain and suffering caused by SANTIAGO’s heroin trafficking.

Evidence presented during the ten-day trial proved that SANTIAGO was the head of a massive heroin distribution enterprise operating in the Greater Lowell area. During the course of 2004, agents wiretapped five telephones and a paging device used by SANTIAGO and his associates. Agents also surreptitiously installed a Global Positioning System on SANTIAGO’s mini-van which showed repeated trips to Brooklyn, New York to obtain upwards of 500 kilograms of heroin per trip from his supplier, Juan Nunez, who was also convicted by the jury and awaits sentencing.

At the conclusion of the investigation on October 15, 2004, agents stopped SANTIAGO on a return trip to Massachusetts after having met in New York with Nunez and discovered approximately 500 grams of heroin hidden in a sophisticated trap inside his mini-van. A search of SANTIAGO’s residence yielded an additional 115 grams of heroin, two heroin “finger presses,” three scales, a money counter, a loaded semi-automatic 9 mm Lugar, three silencers, two additional clips, live ammunition and spent casings, and money order and money wire transfer receipts.

The evidence introduced at trial established that SANTIAGO distributed large quantities of heroin in 10-gram increments (called “fingers”) to his co-defendants after communicating with them over telephones and via pager. These co-conspirators in turn would sell the heroin in glassine baggies stamped with unique logos to their customers throughout the Greater Lowell area.

On October 15, 2004, agents and police officers arrested close to a dozen individuals and executed federal search warrants at six locations in Massachusetts and New York. Investigators seized more than one kilogram of heroin, sophisticated drug processing equipment, packaging materials bearing signature stamps, thousands of dollars in U.S. currency, and several motor vehicles.

Six additional associates of SANTIAGO’s have pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin. Charges against one remaining defendant, Enrique Agosto of Lowell, are still pending.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Lowell and Dracut Police Departments.