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Leader of Multi-Million Dollar Heroin Trafficking Organization Sentenced to Prison

OCT 29 (BOSTON) – A leader of a Lawrence heroin trafficking organization that operated in Massachusetts and New York was sentenced today to 13 years in federal prison.

Ygoa Almonte-Baez, 48, of Dorchester, Mass., and the Bronx, N.Y., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to 13 years in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $2 million.  In June 2015, Almonte-Baez was convicted by a federal jury for one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin.

On July 26, 2013, federal agents raided Almonte-Baez’s stash house in Lawrence and seized over 21 kilograms of highly pure heroin.  Agents also found digital scales, grinders, cutting agents and other tools used for processing and packaging heroin for distribution.  Almonte-Baez recorded the sales and related payments for his heroin business in ledgers that showed millions of dollars in heroin sales in 2013 alone.  The same day that agents arrested Almonte-Baez, they also seized over $372,000 in drug proceeds from a courier who testified at trial that he worked for Almonte-Baez picking up tens of thousands of dollars at a time from wholesale heroin customers. 

According to the charging statutes, the judge was legally required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.  Prosecutors sought a lengthier sentence arguing that the 21 kilograms of heroin agents seized from Almonte-Baez was only a small portion of what his organization distributed.  Furthermore, it was of such high purity that it likely would have been diluted by a factor of three before begin distributed in street-level transactions, amounting to approximately 120,000 dosage units. 

This case was prosecuted as part of the federal response to New England’s opioid crisis.  A substantial increase in the purity of heroin in recent years, as well as a reduction in its price, has persuaded many individuals addicted to prescription medication to switch to heroin.  Overdoses from heroin have climbed substantially as a result. 

Michael J. Ferguson Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Essex County Sheriff Frank G. Cousins, Jr.; and Lawrence Police Chief James X. Fitzpatrick, made the announcement.  The case was investigated by the DEA’s Cross Borders Initiative.


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