For Immediate Release - March 14, 2017

Three Individuals Charged in Connection With Trafficking Heroin and Fentanyl

BOSTON –  Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that her office has charged three individuals in two separate cases involving the trafficking of heroin and fentanyl in Massachusetts.

“We are in the midst of a deadly opioid epidemic that took the lives of 2,000 people in Massachusetts last year,” AG Healey said. “These cases are an example of our work to expand heroin and fentanyl trafficking enforcement statewide and go after those who bring these lethal drugs into our communities.”

Maria Alvarado and Wellington Eustate

Maria Alvarado, age 49, of the Bronx, NY, and Wellington Eustate, a.ka. Fernando Hernadez-Santos, age 34, of New York, NY, were indicted by a Worcester County Grand Jury Friday on the charges of Trafficking over 10 grams of Fentanyl (one count each), Trafficking over 200 grams of Heroin (one count each) and Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substances Act (one count each). Eustate was also indicted on the charged of Furnishing a False Name at arrest (one count).

Alvarado and Eustate will be arraigned on the charges from their indictment in Worcester Superior Court at a later date.

Alvarado and Eustate were arrested on Oct. 26, 2016 in Bolton in a joint operation with Homeland Security Investigations, State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, the State Police Transportation Drug Unit and the State Police Troop-C Community Action Team (CAT) in Holden following an investigation that led authorities to believe that the car they were operating was being used to traffic narcotics.

During the arrest, authorities located 11 kilogram packages of narcotics in a car Alvarado was driving. Eustate was a passenger in the car. At least four kilograms of the substances in the packages were later determined to be fentanyl and at least one kilogram was later determined to be heroin.

This investigation is ongoing. These charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Cesar Vega, of AG Healey’s Enterprise, Major and Cyber Crimes Division. The case was investigated by the State Police Transportation Drug Unit, State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.

Jorge G. Orta

Jorge G. Orta, a.k.a Jorge Gomes, age 36, of Lawrence, was arrested in Lawrence on Friday by State Police assigned to the AG’s Office with assistance from the State Police Transportation Drug Unit, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Lawrence Police.

Orta was arraigned Monday morning on the charges of Trafficking over 100 grams of Heroin (one count), Committing a Drug Violation within 300 feet of a School (one count), Resisting an Arrest (one count) and Furnishing a False Name at Arrest (one count). At the arraignment, Orta pleaded not guilty to the charges and was held on $100,000 bail.

Authorities arrested Orta after observing him arrange for the purchase and distribution of at least 100 grams of heroin.

This investigation is ongoing. These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Cesar Vega and Assistant Attorney General Gina Kwon, both of AG Healey’s Enterprise, Major and Cyber Crimes Division. The case is being investigated by State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Transportation Drug Unit (TDU), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Lawrence Police Department and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.

Massachusetts law enforcement has seen a significant increase in the presence of fentanyl, especially in drug overdoses and deaths.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates that 1,979 people – the highest number ever recorded in the state and a 13 percent increase year-over-year – died from opioid overdoses in 2016. The number of deaths from opioid overdoses involving fentanyl continued to climb last year. Of the 1,979 estimated deaths from opioid overdoses, there was a toxicology test available for 70 percent (1,374) and of those, 75 percent tested positive for fentanyl (1,031). Essex County is among the four counties in the state with the highest rate of overdoses.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Drug traffickers frequently mix the drug with heroin, without the knowledge of the buyer. It can be deadly in even low doses.

Legislation to criminalize the trafficking of fentanyl went into effect in February 2016. Prior to the law going into effect, drug traffickers could only be charged with the lesser crimes of manufacturing, distributing or possessing fentanyl, regardless of the quantity of the drug they were caught with.