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PROVIDENCE, RI – Eighteen individuals, fifteen of whom were previously convicted of felony drug and/or firearm charges, and thirteen of whom are currently serving terms of state or federal probation, have been charged in federal court in Providence with trafficking drugs and/or firearms, the result of a series of FBI Safe Streets Task Force Project Safe Neighborhoods investigations.

 “Operation River Fork,” launched by the Safe Streets Task Force in Woonsocket in January, expanded over the past ten months to include investigations in Providence, Warwick and Cranston. The investigations identified three separate alleged drug and/or firearms trafficking conspiracies involving a total of nine individuals, and eight individuals who have been charged based on their alleged independent drug and/or firearm trafficking activities.

Leading up to eight arrests and the execution of two court-authorized search warrants on Wednesday, and seven arrests today, forty-seven controlled drug and firearm transactions monitored by members of the Safe Street Task Force resulted in the seizure of three loaded firearms, approximately one kilogram of crack cocaine, and forty grams of fentanyl. 

As a result of the arrests and search warrants executed on Wednesday and Thursday, three loaded firearms, approximately 350 grams of crack cocaine, 130 grams of fentanyl, 120 grams of powder cocaine, and $122,000 in cash were seized by law enforcement. 

If convicted as charged in criminal complaints filed with the court, thirteen of the nineteen individuals face mandatory minimum sentences of five years in federal prison.

United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman noted, “It is unfortunate, and really distressing, that Defendants with previous criminal histories would remain undeterred from continuing to deal in drugs, and, in some instances, even firearms. Thanks to the exemplary, and truly heroic, work of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, these alleged bad actors – who endanger our neighborhoods and threaten our families with gun and drug violence – now face the prospect of significant incarceration in federal prison.”  

“These arrests and seizures show our relentless determination to mitigate the drug-fueled violence plaguing our communities at the hands of previously convicted felons who continue to demonstrate why they are a serious threat to public safety,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “The hard-working citizens of Rhode Island should not be handcuffed by fear of leaving their homes and getting caught in the crosshairs of a drug deal. Let it be clear, the rule of law is not optional, and our Safe Streets Task Force will continue to do everything it can to stop the flow of illegal narcotics and firearms onto our streets.”

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

These Project Safe Neighborhood cases are being prosecuted by a team of prosecutors to include Assistant United States Attorneys Stacey P. Veroni, Gerard B. Sullivan, Ly T. Chin, Christine D. Lowell, and Ronald R. Gendron.

The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force is comprised of agents and law enforcement officers from the FBI, Rhode Island State Police, the Providence, Cranston, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, West Warwick, and Central Falls Police Departments, the Rhode Island National Guard, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Arrested Wednesday

Anthony Medeiros, 29, Woonsocket

  • Three counts of the Distribution of 28 grams or More of Cocaine Base
  • Two counts of Distribution of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Conspiracy to distribute a Controlled Substance

Bradley Dewalt. 28, Woonsocket

  • One count of the Distribution of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Conspiracy to distribute a Controlled Substance

Michael Fernandes, 27, Woonsocket

  • Two counts of the Distribution of 28 grams or More of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Distribution of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance

Mariah Raymond, 26, Woonsocket

  • One count of the Distribution of 28 grams or More of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Conspiracy to distribute a Controlled Substance

Josue Gomez Sanchez, 26, Woonsocket

  • Distribution of 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base
  • Distribution of Cocaine Base

Jose Perez, 27, Woonsocket

  • Two counts of Distribution of 28 grams of More of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Distribution of Cocaine Base

Michael Wilkerson, 36, Woonsocket

  • One count of Distribution of 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Distribution of Cocaine Base

Bruce Perez Gonzalez, 25, Woonsocket

  • Distribution of 28 grams of More of Cocaine Base 
  • Distribution of Cocaine Base

Arrested Thursday

Joel Figueroa, 24, Providence

  • Two counts of Distribution of less than 28 grams of Cocaine Base 
  • One count of Conspiracy to Distribute of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Ricardo Pierre, 41, Warwick

  • Five counts of Distribution of 28 grams of More of Cocaine Base

Ronnie Smith, 32, Cranston

  • One count of Distribution of 28 grams of More of Cocaine Base
  • One count of Distribution of Cocaine Base

Michael Rodriguez, 25, Providence

  • One count of Distribution of 28 grams of More of Cocaine Base
  • Two counts of Distribution of Cocaine Base

Angel Aviles, 22, Cranston

  • Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, heroin and fentanyl and distribution of cocaine base, heroin and fentanyl

Juan Batista, 35, Woonsocket

  • Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, heroin and fentanyl and distribution of cocaine base, heroin and fentanyl

Natalie Cassidy, 26, Woonsocket

  • Conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, heroin and fentanyl and distribution of cocaine base, heroin and fentanyl

Detained at the ACI on Unrelated Charges

Brady Robinson, 26, Woonsocket

  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Alfonso Merced, 35, Woonsocket

  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Josimar Pereira, 24, Woonsocket

  • Two counts of the offense of distribution of a controlled substance, cocaine base; and 
  • Six counts of distribution of a controlled substance, cocaine base and fentanyl

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