A Haverhill man has pleaded guilty and was been sentenced to three and a half to four years in state prison in connection with a fentanyl trafficking operation, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. \n\nFrancis Leroy Fernandez, 34, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Essex Superior Court to the charges of Trafficking Fentanyl (four counts) and Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substance Act (one count). Following the plea, Judge Thomas Dreschler sentenced Fernandez to three and a half to four years in state prison, followed by three years of probation.\n\nFernandez and Hector Ocasio, age 28, of Lawrence, were arrested in Haverhill in February 2017 in a joint operation involving Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General\u2019s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team (CINRET), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Haverhill Police Department. \n\nAuthorities arrested the two defendants after observing them participate in multiple sales of approximately 150 grams of fentanyl in Haverhill. \n\nAs part of his plea, Fernandez admitted to selling over 150 grams and possessing an additional 103 grams of the deadly drug with intent to distribute. \n\nOcasio was also charged with four counts of Trafficking Fentanyl and one count of Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substance Act. Authorities allege he was supplying Fernandez with the fentanyl he sold. \n\nThe AG\u2019s Office has committed a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to form a Fentanyl Strike Force. In partnership with the Massachusetts State Police, the task force will target heroin and fentanyl traffickers and dismantle their distribution networks across Massachusetts. The funds will expand the AG\u2019s Office\u2019s own drug enforcement work and has helped build enhanced partnerships with federal, state, and local law enforcement.\n\nThe case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lynn Brennan, of AG Healey\u2019s Enterprise, Major and Cyber Crimes Division. The case was investigated by State Police assigned to the AG\u2019s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Haverhill Police Department and the AG\u2019s Digital Evidence Lab.