standing Courts

PROVIDENCE — The 15th and final defendant has been sentenced in connection with a federal investigation into the shipment of heroin and cocaine from Mexico to the Providence area for distribution in three New England states.

The defendant, Edgardo Romero, 39, was sentenced to serve 60 months in federal prison Wednesday during a hearing at the U.S. District Court in Providence. He was the last defendant to be sentenced in connection with "Operation Triple Play," an investigation led by the FBI with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rhode Island State Police, and local police in Providence, Woonsocket, Central Falls, Cranston and Warwick.

“This investigation drove a spike through the heart of a significant drug trafficking organization and put them out of business," U.S. Attorney Aaron L. Weisman said. "An equally committed team of prosecutors ensured that each and every defendant arrested and charged was held accountable for their actions."

The investigation, conducted through the FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force, was dubbed “Operation Triple Play,” in reference to the Dominican brothers Juan, Claudio, and Hector Valdez, who admitted running the drug trafficking organization and were sentenced last year.

According to court documents, the brothers repeatedly arranged for and supervised large shipments of heroin and cocaine from Mexico to stash houses in Cranston and Woonsocket. The narcotics were redistributed to drug dealers in the greater Providence, Boston and Hartford areas, court documents said.

Juan Valdez, 51, of Milton, Mass., and Claudio Valdez, 46, of Woonsocket, are serving 20-year sentences in federal prison. Hector Valdez, 45, of Woonsocket, is serving a nine-year sentence.

As part of the investigation, the authorities conducted 14 searches in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, leading to the seizure of nearly 3.5 kilograms of fentanyl, 4 kilograms of heroin laced with fentanyl, 1.6 kilograms of cocaine, 142 grams of crack cocaine, more than 137 pounds of cutting agents, $45,500 in cash, and nine vehicles. Five of the vehicles had compartments used to transport the drugs.

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com

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