Police Say Haverhill Corrections Officer Tried to Smuggle Drugs into Prison, Joins 20 Others Arrested

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A Haverhill man, who has since been fired from his job at the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, allegedly smuggled a cell telephone to a prison inmate and unsuccessfully tried to deliver fentanyl, cocaine and Suboxone into the Middleton House of Correction.

Twenty-seven-year-old Gregorit Sanchez was a correctional officer and arrested Wednesday with another Haverhill man and 19 others from nearby cities and charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, cocaine and other controlled substances.

“On Nov. 11, Mr. Sanchez attempted to smuggle in a large amount of illegal drugs into our facility, but we stopped him, seized the evidence and terminated his employment,” said Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger in a prepared statement. He added Sanchez was an employee for less than a year. “Stripping Mr. Sanchez of his sheriff’s badge does not begin to take away the stain he has left on the courageous and dedicated work of his 570 fellow employees,” Coppinger said.

U.S. Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell’s office in Boston said Sanchez allegedly helped 30-year-old Elvis DeJesus of Lawrence obtain a contraband cellphone while DeJesus was being held at the prison following his arrest on state firearms charges. Sanchez then attempted to smuggle a package containing fentanyl, cocaine and Suboxone into the prison. The package was seized as Sanchez was arriving for work.

Court documents report DeJesus also scolded his employee, 28-year-old William Rivadeneira of Haverhill, on an intercepted call for not wearing a mask when working with fentanyl. He warned Rivadeneira, “(Y)ou can get an overdose.”

The men, along with others from Lawrence; Lunenburg; S. Portland, Maine; and Caguas, Puerto Rico, were charged in connection with a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy involving cocaine, fentanyl and other controlled substances with activity that spanned across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine and Puerto Rico.

Investigation into the Lawrence-based drug trafficking organization began in May 2020. Since last December 2020, police intercepted communications between members. The Justice Department said the operation was headed by 31-year-old Joseph Correa of Lawrence who sold drugs in both wholesale and retail quantities and employed couriers and stash house operators to store and distribute drugs, including the mother of his children and her sister.

Correa allegedly obtained fentanyl locally and obtained cocaine from suppliers in Puerto Rico. Prosecutors say Correa, Jose “Bebo” Martinez and Luis Martinez are half-brothers and regularly travelled to Puerto Rico to purchase kilograms of cocaine. They and Madeline Correa-Dones, their mother, would then mail the drugs in packages to addresses in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Over the course of the investigation, approximately 7.5 kilograms of cocaine was seized from packages mailed from Puerto Rico to the defendants. In total, over 10.5 kilograms of cocaine, approximately 650 grams of suspected fentanyl and approximately $201,681 in drug proceeds were seized over the course of the investigation.

The following were arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, cocaine and other controlled substances:

  • Joseph Correa, 31, of Lawrence.
  • Jose Martinez, a/k/a “Bebo,” 28, of Lawrence.
  • Luis Martinez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Manchester, N.H.
  • Alberto Marrero, a/k/a “Gordo,” 40, of Lawrence.
  • Madeline Correa-Dones, 50, of Caguas, P.R.;
  • Mavi Rosario, 30, of Lawrence.
  • Sonvi Rosario, 31, of Lawrence.
  • Fauris Guerrero Valdez, a/k/a “Duro,” 25, of Lawrence.
  • Luis Perez Frias, 20, of Lawrence.
  • Freddy Reyes Concepcion, a/k/a Franchve Gonzalez Irizarry, 49, of Lawrence.
  • Alex Rafael Hernandez Mercedes, 36, of Lawrence.
  • Felipe Martinez, 59, of Lawrence.
  • Elvis DeJesus, 30, of Lawrence.
  • William Rivadeneira, 28, of Haverhill.
  • Gregorit Sanchez, 27, of Haverhill.
  • Jeremy Eaton, 25, of Lunenburg.
  • Nestor Emilio Olaverria Fuster, a/k/a Pablo Pizarro-Rosa, a/k/a “Chiquitin,” 58, of Lawrence.
  • Othoniel Lara Gonzalez, a/k/a “Jose Ramirez,” a/k/a “Anibal Pena,” a/k/a “Chirpa,” 52, of Lawrence.
  • Zacharia Mohamed, 26, of S. Portland, Maine.

Victor Ramon Melendez, 33, of Norwich, Conn. remains at large.

Pablo Rosario Pablo a/k/a “Angel Ayala Roque” a/k/a “Cuco,” 56, of Methuen, was also arrested Wednesday and charged in a separate criminal complaint with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

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