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BOSTON – A Lawrence man pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court in Boston to fentanyl conspiracy and unlawful possession of firearms.

Ariel Pagan-Romero, 31, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; distribution and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl; and being a felon in possession of firearms.  U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Feb. 4, 2021.

During the course of several months, using an undercover officer, a federal investigation uncovered Pagan-Romero’s fentanyl distribution operation. During a search of Pagan-Romero’s residence, agents seized pistols, an AR-15 rifle, ammunition, fentanyl and cocaine base.

The charge of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million and at least 5 years of supervised release. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew Lelling and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; the Massachusetts State Police; and the Andover, North Andover, Billerica, Chelmsford, Lowell and Lawrence Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip C. Cheng of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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