A 34-year-old Haverhill man was recently arrested and charged for allegedly manufacturing and distributing tens of thousands of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl in the Lawrence and Boston areas.
Angel Joel Diaz, a/k/a “Guero,” was first arrested Feb. 15 while carrying a shopping bag of approximately 31,800 fentanyl pills separated into seven plastic bags. Information about the arrest was made following his federal court appearance Thursday. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, police found at Diaz’s home a pill press with powder residue on it, thousands of pills, pill stamps, several masks and loose powder of various colors, approximately 5,000 suspected fentanyl pills in a heat-sealed bag, suspected fentanyl powder and chemicals used in manufacturing pills and a second pill press in the garage.
“Swallowing a lethal drug can have the exact same deadly outcome as injecting one. With the rise in counterfeit pill distribution, the health and safety of our communities are put at greater risk,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “We believe Mr. Diaz allegedly conspired to sell tens of thousands of these deadly counterfeit pills to areas in our Commonwealth and beyond. During the investigation, approximately 50,000 counterfeit pills were seized along with two pill presses. Each of those pills could result in a fatal overdose and we commend our law enforcement partners for this investigation and arrest which improves public safety.”
According to court records, an investigation into Diaz’s fentanyl pill manufacturing and distribution operation began on Jan. 10, when an undercover officer contacted Diaz posing as a potential drug customer seeking to purchase counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl. Police allege Diaz agreed to meet the following day and provided 208 fentanyl pills. Half of the pills allegedly contained methamphetamine in addition to fentanyl.
During the meeting, Diaz reportedly told the officer he manufactures his own fentanyl pills, which he distributes in Lawrence and Boston as well as in New York via mail shipments.
On Feb. 14, Diaz allegedly sent a photograph of suspected fentanyl pills to the undercover officer saying, “even making it with a mask makes you want to vomit and everything.”