Residents of Methuen, Plaistow, N.H., Lawrence and other communities were indicted by a federal grand jury in New Hampshire in connection with a Lawrence-based drug trafficking operation.
New Hampshire U.S. Attorney Jane E. Young said Thursday that over the past day and a half, police arrested nine of 15 people on conspiracy to distribute controlled substances charges, namely fentanyl and cocaine, while two others were in state custody, serving prison sentences in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. They are scheduled to appear in federal court at various times this week.
Those charged locally include Yonathan Elias Baez-Santos and Elaine Soto-Villar, both of Methuen; Aaron Loew of Plaistow, N.H.; and Melvin Villar-Lugo, Felix Manuel Mejia-Gonzalez and Alexander Lechappelle, all of Lawrence.
According to court documents, the alleged leader of the drug trafficking enterprise used a social media messaging application and other means to coordinate narcotic transactions with customers in New Hampshire via “runners” in Massachusetts, from October 2021 through August 2023.
During the investigation, law enforcement seized more than one kilogram of fentanyl. The investigation also revealed text messages over the social media account showing a total of more than 14 kilograms of fentanyl negotiated with various large-scale drug dealers in New Hampshire and a gun-for-drug trade.