Law enforcement officials have seized millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs and dismantled a sophisticated drug operation in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey said Thursday.
Healey said local, state and federal authorities executed warrants at 14 locations in Methuen and Lawrence on Wednesday, seizing 24 kilograms of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.
Healey said a dozen arrests were made at several levels of the distribution chain, and that "higher-ups" in the ring were involved from as far away as New Jersey.
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One of the people charged, 34-year-old Maricely Carrion-Ramos of Lawrence, is a former call-taker at the Lawrence Police Department. The chief said she was terminated at the end of May.
It was the largest takedown of a major opioid trafficking operation in the history of the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.
"As importantly, if not more importantly, it represents hundreds of thousands of lethal doses of drugs that we have kept from affecting communities in our state," said Healey.
Among the 12 arrested and arraigned Thursday were:
Ramon Cruz-Gonzalez, 45, of Lawrence; Israel Santiago Ortiz (aka "Simpson"), 39, of Methuen; Alberto Santana Santos, 36, of Lawrence; Robinson Adames Abreu (aka "Papa"), 52, of Methuen; Jose Lugo-Garcia, 21, of Lawrence; Raul Martinez, 32, of Lawrence; Omar Acevedo (aka "Prieto"), 37, of Methuen; Jhonny Mota-Rodriguez, 24, of Lawrence; Cirio Delores Acevedo, 36, of Lawrence; Yeltsin De La Cruz, 28, of Lawrence; Sulerka Mercado, 37, of Methuen; and Jason Emery, 43, of Lawrence.
Two others, identified as Ramos and 31-year-old Jocheiry Acevedo Hernandez of Methuen, were arraigned after being arrested on June 17.
The investigation was launched by special agents at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency office in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sought the source of drugs coming into that state.
The arrests will have a measurable impact on the opioid trade, said Jon DeLena, associate special agent in charge of the DEA's New England Field Division.
"We have witnessed the destruction that the opioid epidemic has brought to our neighborhoods," he said. "Every time we take fentanyl off the streets it saves lives."