Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Rafael Galvez, age 41, with a last known address of 63 Glenham Street, Providence, today pleaded nolo contendere to possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession with intent to deliver fentanyl, and conspiracy to possess one ounce to one kilo of heroin. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Galvez was sentenced by Superior Court Justice William Carnes to 18 years, with eight to serve and the remainder suspended with probation.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that Galvez was engaged in a large scale heroin distribution ring.
"Working with the Rhode Island State Police and the HIDTA Task Force, we were able to disrupt a significant drug trafficking operation here in Rhode Island, getting heroin and deadly fentanyl off our streets," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
"This plea takes a heroin-fentanyl dealer off the street and also sends a message to others who choose to sell this poison in our community. With the overdose death rate being tied to this trafficking, our investigation is just one of the many ways we are attacking this epidemic," said Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent, of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner/Director of Public Safety.
In December 2013, Attorney General Kilmartin and Colonel O'Donnell announced the arrest of Galvez and 11 other individuals by members of the Rhode Island State Police / High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. These officers commenced an investigation named "Operation Hybrid," during the month of August 2012 into a large-scale heroin trafficking organization. During the 16-month investigation, the HIDTA Task Force identified the leaders of the organization as well as other members of their drug trafficking organization.
During the investigation, the HIDTA Task Force developed information that two subjects, identified only by their street names "Jose" and "Junior," were the leaders of a large heroin distribution network operating in the City of Providence. These subjects were also known to utilize several vehicles containing elaborate, electronically operated hidden compartments to conceal their illicit trade. The subjects were later positively identified as Henry Ortiz, of 21 Tyndall Avenue, Providence, RI and Richard Pena, of 20 Abram Street, Providence, RI.
In November 2013, the Honorable Alice Gibney, Presiding Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court, signed two court orders authorizing the above named law enforcement agencies to intercept communications over three cellular telephone numbers utilized by "Jose" and "Junior," to operate and conduct criminal operations, to include: Delivery of Schedule Controlled Substances (R.I.G.L. 21-28-4.01) and Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (R.I.G.L 21-28-4.08); in violation of the General Laws of Rhode Island (1956) as amended (Reenactment 2002).
Members of the HIDTA Task Force maintained electronic audio intercept surveillance of the telephones accounts from Tuesday November 12, 2013 up to and including Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Over the course of this investigation, the Rhode Island State Police HIDTA Task Force positively identified numerous individuals as co-conspirators in the illegal heroin distribution operation.
Throughout the course of this investigation, members of the intercept team established, through numerous intercepted telephone conversations and surveillances, that Ortiz and Pena were conducting an illegal drug trafficking operation. Members also conducted physical surveillance and observed them meeting with known and unknown individuals for the purpose of distributing heroin for profit.
During this investigation, the HIDTA Task Force intercepted over 1,100 telephone calls. On December 11th, 2013, Task Force members arrested 12 individuals for various charges. Members also executed six search warrants on residences and businesses in Providence, North Providence and Pawtucket, and seized heroin and fentanyl, as well as two firearms, ammunition, drug packaging paraphernalia, digital scales, nine motor vehicles of which several had hidden compartments and over $11,000 in United States currency.
The HIDTA Task Force is comprised of members from the Rhode Island State Police, Johnston Police, Providence Police, North Providence Police, Pawtucket Police, Smithfield Police, Central Falls Police, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/ Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Rhode Island National Guard. Assistant Attorney General James Baum and Special Assistant Attorney General Joseph McBurney prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.