Holyoke man pleads guilty to trafficking fentanyl for Mexican drug cartel

Published: 11/24/2022 7:57:39 PM
Modified: 11/24/2022 7:57:29 PM

BOSTON — A Holyoke man associated with the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion drug cartel (CJNG) has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges involving fentanyl.

Josue Rivera Rodriguez, also known as “Bori,” 45, pleaded guilty on Nov. 18 to one count of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, two counts of distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl, and one count of distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Feb. 6. Rodriguez was arrested and charged in April 2021.

“The CJNG cartel is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in Mexico. Mr. Rodriguez conspired to bring CJNG’s violent drug trafficking operations into our commonwealth. Because of the exceptional work of our law enforcement partners, he failed,” U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said in a statement Wednesday.

“Not only did he distribute considerable quantities of fentanyl on behalf of the cartel into our communities, agents also seized deadly firearms from his home, including a fully automatic AR-15 machine gun and several handguns fitted with laser sight. These weapons are far too excessive and powerful for any claim of self-defense. They are designed for destruction and harm.”

Rodriguez trafficked fentanyl across Massachusetts, including in Watertown, Revere, Holyoke and Springfield “for one of the largest and most violent transnational criminal organizations operating in Mexico and the United States,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI, Boston Division.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Rodriguez was recorded delivering $35,000 to a cooperating witness and using a code indicating that the money was intended for the CJNG cartel. Thereafter, on three occasions in 2020 and 2021, Rodriquez was recorded distributing over 750 grams of fentanyl to the cooperating witness, the attorney’s office said.

At the time of his arrest in April 2021, agents seized from Rodriguez’s residence approximately 300 grams of fentanyl; an AR-15 assault rifle; five semiautomatic pistols, including handguns capable of carrying large-caliber ammunition and fitted with a laser light; a bulletproof vest; a police hat with insignia; packaging materials; cellphones; a money counter; and $1,900 in cash.

The charges of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl provide for a sentence of at least 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. The charge of distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years of supervised release and a fine of up to $5 million.

Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes that govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

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