Drug Enforcement Administration

New England

Brian D. Boyle , Special Agent in Charge

February 08, 2018

Contact: SA Timothy Desmond

Phone Number: (617) 557-2100

Wiretap Investigation Yields More Than 77lbs Of Fentanyl, Heroin And Cocaine In “Operation High Hopes”

BOSTON - Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s New England Division; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Boston Police Superintendent in Chief William Gross; Braintree Police Chief Paul Shastany and Randolph Police Chief William Pace announced the results of Operation High Hopes, one of the longest, most far-reaching, and most successful state wiretap investigations in Massachusetts history.

The investigation dismantled two Boston-area drug trafficking organizations and led to the seizure of some 77 pounds of various narcotics - including fentanyl, an opiate so powerful that mere milligrams can be lethal - and some $300,000 in alleged drug money.  The fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and opiate tablets are believed to have come from the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.

“Those suffering from the disease of opioid addiction need access to treatment and recovery,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson.  “But those responsible for distributing lethal drugs like fentanyl to the citizens of Massachusetts need to be held accountable for their actions.  DEA’s top priority is combatting the opioid epidemic by working with our local, county and state law enforcement partners to bring to justice those that distribute this poison.”

“I want to be clear about the size and scope here,” District Attorney Conley said.  “Massachusetts’ fentanyl trafficking statute covers quantities greater than 10 grams.  That threshold represents less than 1/1000th of the quantity we’ve taken off the street.  The number of actual milligram-level doses in 15 kilograms is in the millions.  And the number of overdoses it could have caused is truly staggering. Individuals who buy and sell at this level aren’t users.  They’re not small time dealers, either.  They’re certainly not selling to support a habit. They’re trafficking in addictive substances that claim more lives in Massachusetts than all homicides, all suicides, and all car crashes, statewide, combined.”

 “These arrests and seizures will have a tremendous impact on the quality of life in Boston and many other Massachusetts cities and towns,” said Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans. “The individuals arrested are responsible for pumping dangerous drugs into our communities, while profiting on the vulnerability of those suffering from the disease of addiction. I commend the work of my detectives and all our law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly over the past six months of Operation High Hopes. These partnerships area a tremendous benefit to law enforcement and the communities we serve, as they provide the resources needed to conduct this type of large-scale operation and keep our cities safe and free from drugs.”

The initial targets of the investigation - Edward Soto-Perez, 43, of Roxbury; Nelson Catala-Otero, 37, of Brockton; and Julio Cuello, 52, of Dorchester - were arraigned in November on multiple drug trafficking charges after the execution of wiretap-based search warrants. They were held on bails ranging from $100,000 to $250,000 and will return to court on February 13, 2018.

Their alleged supplier, Robert Contreras, 42, of Roxbury, was one of more than a dozen additional targets arrested today.  He was arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court and held on $1 million bail on charges of trafficking fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine. He will return to court on February 28, 2018.

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