Leader of Lawrence Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to Over 15 Years in Prison
BOSTON – The leader of a local drug trafficking organization (DTO) was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for trafficking fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, carfentanil (a fentanyl analogue) in and around the Lawrence area and for possessing a loaded firearm in furtherance of his DTO’s operations.
Luis Manuel Rodriguez Then, 31, formerly of Lawrence, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge William G. Young to 186 months in prison and five years of supervised release. In September 2022, Rodriguez Then pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, heroin, 500 grams or more of cocaine, 10 grams or more of carfentanil, and 10 grams or more of 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl; distribution of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and 10 grams or more of 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl (fentanyl analogue); and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
“The seriousness of Mr. Rodriguez’s crimes cannot be overstated. He was a leader of a drug distribution organization that brought fentanyl and fentanyl analogue into our communities,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “For the last several years, the United States as a whole and Massachusetts in particular have been plagued by an opioid epidemic that has taken an alarming number of lives and has destroyed countless families and communities. In 2021, 80,816 people died from opioid-related overdoses in the United States — the equivalent of 221 deaths per day. In Massachusetts alone we lost 2,301 of our loved ones. My office will continue to do everything we can to protect our communities from this deadly crisis.”
“DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling violent poly drug trafficking organizations like these operating in Massachusetts,” said Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division. “As we all know, drug trafficking in our communities, along with the gun and physical violence that often accompanies it, is a serious threat to our families and communities. This is unacceptable and will not be allowed to happen. DEA and its local, state and federal partners are dedicated to bringing to justice those that commit these crimes.”
From October 2018 through March 2019, Rodriguez Then and another individual were leaders of a DTO which distributed fentanyl, fentanyl analogue and other substances in and around the Lawrence area. Rodriguez Then and the other individual employed a third individual who was tasked with residing at a stash house maintained by and serving as a courier for the DTO. During the investigation, a confidential source conducted three controlled purchases of suspected fentanyl from the DTO during which Rodriguez Then and the other leader obtained the order and collected payment from the confidential source and the courier brought the requested suspected fentanyl pills. For two of these transactions, the pills distributed by the DTO tested positive for fentanyl. For the third transaction, the pills distributed by Rodriguez Then’s DTO tested positive for fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl analogue.
On March 13, 2019, two search warrants were executed in Lawrence. At one location, where Rodriguez Then resided, a wall hide in Rodriguez Then’s master bedroom contained $7,010 in suspected drug proceeds, a loaded .22 caliber Smith and Wesson firearms and multiple fake identification cards bearing the defendant’s likeness. A rental lease for the stash house was also located in Rodriguez Then’s residence. During a search warrant executed at the stash house, among other things, multiple hidden compartments/wall hides containing drugs and drug paraphernalia were located, including approximately 2,074 grams of fentanyl, 732 grams of heroin, 2,333 grams of cocaine and 448.4 grams of carfentanil.
U.S. Attorney Rollins and DEA SAC Boyle made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Ferguson and Lindsey E. Weinstein of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.