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Largest Fentanyl Bust in N.H. Traced to Lawrence Drug Ring

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Concord says a massive drug sweep involving 20 different federal, state and local agencies has led to 45 indictments, and the seizure of more than 30 kilograms of fentanyl.

Officials say they tracked a Lawrence, Massachusetts-based drug ring for more than a year, allegedly overseen by two brothers, Sergio and Raulin Martinez. 

The brothers ran a “vast network” of dealers who sold fentanyl in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Fentanyl is an opioid many times more powerful than heroin, and is the leading cause of overdose deaths in New Hampshire.

“If you are a drug dealer doing business within this state, whether in Lawrence, Massachusetts, or beyond, know that the feds are watching you,” said Scott Murray, U.S. Attorney for the district of New Hampshire, during a press conference.

“And that the combined weight of federal, state and local law enforcement will be brought against you if you choose to sell drugs in New Hampshire.”

Murray called it the biggest fentanyl bust to date for his team.

The sting was carried out in two major operations, including an April 9th event that resulted 15 arrests, and a second operation on April 18th, which yielded 12 more arrests. Several named in the indictments have not yet been taken into custody. In total, 29 Massachusetts residents were indicted, along with 15 New Hampshire residents.

In addition to fentanyl, law enforcement seized more than $500,000 in cash and two firearms.

Agents from the DEA, as well as N.H. State Police and police departments across New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts collaborated on the investigation.

“The Granite State is faced with a fentanyl crisis unlike ever before and DEA’s top priority is combating the opioid epidemic,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Albert Angelucci.

One agency not involved in the operation was the Lawrence Police Department. When asked why, U.S. Attorney Murray said with 20 agencies already involved in the case, “I think the resources were sufficient to deal with the issue.”

No one from the Lawrence PD was immediately available for comment.

Last year, Governor Chris Sununu said he believed Lawrence was a main source of drugs entering New Hampshire. His comments sparked a critical response from the Mayor of Lawrence, Daniel Rivera.

“The problem is we have a society-wide addiction problem and a society-wide problem with people who want to sell drugs and we should work together to fix them,” said Rivera.

Many New Hampshire law enforcement officials agree with Sununu’s assessment that fentanyl is often trafficked through Lawrence, including Murray.

“I can tell you that I spent seven years as an elected district attorney in New Hampshire prior to assuming this office, and I would say that a very large percentage of our cases came from that location,” he said.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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