Lawrence Man Pleads Guilty To Distributing Fentanyl Pills Produced Using Multiple Pill Press Machines
Nearly nine kilograms of fentanyl seized, including approximately 48,000 fentanyl pills
BOSTON – A Lawrence man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to distributing counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl, made using multiple pill press machines.
Miguel Angel Fajardo, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Feb. 14, 2023. Fajardo was arrested and charged by criminal complaint on March 25, 2022 and subsequently charged by an Information on July 1, 2022.
During a search of Fajardo’s apartment on March 25, 2022, approximately 7.3 kilograms worth of fentanyl pills, an industrial pill press and “M” and “30” pill stamps consistent with markings on pharmaceutical-grade Oxycodone pills were seized. Pill stamps are commonly used to make counterfeit pills appear to be legitimate pharmaceutical-grade pills. Also inside Fajardo’s apartment, approximately 1.4 kilograms of fentanyl powder, two individual finger presses, 50 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition concealed in a microwave, four kilograms of cutting agent and two air purifying respirators – which are commonly used when working with fentanyl powder were also found. Additionally, two one-kilogram pill press machines and another large pill press in the landing outside the apartment were found.
“The opioid crisis remains a clear and present danger to our community, claiming over two thousand lives in Massachusetts in 2021 alone,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Fajardo possessed a staggering quantity of fentanyl – almost nine kilograms – and a clandestine laboratory outfitted with all the tools and materials necessary to press fentanyl into counterfeit pills. By seizing nearly 48,000 such pills along with the tools we believe Mr. Fajardo used to make them, our law enforcement partners likely saved countless lives.”
“The state of Massachusetts continues to face a fentanyl crisis unlike ever before,” said Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division. “Those responsible for distributing this lethal drug within fake prescriptions pills and contributing to the loss of life for those battling addiction need to be held responsible for their actions. In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, DEA and its local, state and federal partners are committed to bringing to justice those that distribute this poison in our communities.”
The charge of possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing fentanyl provides for a sentence of at least 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years of supervised release and a fine of $10 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
U.S. Attorney Rollins, DEA SAC Boyle and Lawrence Police Chief Roy P. Vasque made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Craig E. Estes and Evan D. Panich of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the case.