News Release
For Immediate Release
August 06, 2010

Contact: Special Agent Tony Pettigrew
Number: 617-557-2138

Central Falls Heroin Trafficker; Money Launderer Sentenced
Investigation leads to 9 charged; more than 3 kilos of heroin and $600,000 seized


AUG 06
A Central Falls, R.I., man who was a key figure in an international heroin trafficking operation reaching into Central Falls, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Providence to 140 months in federal prison for conspiracy to traffic three kilos of heroin and laundering more than $100,000 in cash.  Jose Manuel Vasquez, a/k/a/ Chelo, 39, pleaded guilty in February to one count each of conspiracy to possess and distribute one kilogram or more of heroin; and laundering $109,100 derived from the sale of drugs.

The sentence was announced by Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, which was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith.

As a result of this federal investigation into this heroin trafficking operation, nine individuals were charged, and more than three kilos of heroin and $600,000 in cash were seized.

At the time of the defendant’s guilty plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Rogers told the court, had the matter gone to trial, the government would have presented evidence that on April 25, 2006, during a series of telephone calls monitored by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, Jose Vasquez arranged to launder more than $109,000 in drug money. The cash was to be laundered by transferring it to New York and then to Colombia. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rogers also told the court, had the matter gone to trial, the government would have presented evidence that in early July 2006, Vasquez traveled to the Dominican Republic, leaving his cell phones behind. DEA monitored phone calls to Vasquez’s wife, Nereyda Vasquez. The calls clearly indicated that Jose Vasquez anticipated a multi-kilo delivery of heroin at his home while he was away. DEA agents intercepted several calls between Nereyda Vasquez and two couriers, one from New York and the other in Rhode Island. Agents monitored the movement of the heroin into Central Falls, and from one apartment to another, including the residence of Jose and Nereyda Vasquez. Agents also intercepted numerous telephone conversations where individuals discussed purchasing heroin, and inquiries into prices and the quality of the drugs.

On July 7, 2006, federal search warrants were executed at both Central Falls apartments. More than 3 kilos of heroin were located in a bathroom in the apartment of one of the couriers, and $188,670 in cash was found in a hidden compartment in the bedroom floor of the apartment shared by the Vasquez’s. 

A third seizure of $311,100 was made by government officials in the Dominican Republic.  The cash was in hidden compartments built into a bedroom furniture set purchased by Vasquez in the United States and shipped by him from Rhode Island to the Dominican Republic before he traveled in July 2006.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Rogers. The matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.