Providence men sentenced to prison on state ghost gun and fentanyl trafficking charges

Published on Wednesday, August 31, 2022

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that two Providence men were sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to prison at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to possessing a ghost gun and drug trafficking charges following their arrests by the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force in 2021, where investigators also seized a large-capacity magazine.

Lazaro Martinez (age 37) entered a plea of guilty to possession of over one kilogram of fentanyl, possession of one ounce to one kilogram of cocaine, conspiracy to violate Rhode Island’s Controlled Substances Act, possession of a ghost gun, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.

At a hearing on August 25, 2022, before Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause, the Court sentenced the defendant to 20 years, with 12 years to serve at the ACI followed by an eight-year suspended sentence with probation.

Damian DeAngelis (age 39) entered a plea of guilty to possession of over one kilogram of fentanyl, possession of one ounce to one kilogram of cocaine, and conspiracy to violate Rhode Island’s Controlled Substances Act.

At a hearing on August 25, 2022, before Judge Krause, the Court sentenced the defendant to 15 years, with seven years to serve at the ACI and an eight-year suspended sentence with probation.

“We fought for passage of Rhode Island’s ghost gun law two years ago because we knew that they are the gun of choice for those with long criminal records and who continue to engage in serious, often life-threatening criminal activity. These untraceable firearms are easily obtained at minimal cost and without passing a background check, and so it is no surprise that major drug traffickers like the defendants here sought them out to protect their drug trafficking operation,” said Attorney General Neronha. “There has never been any question that law enforcement and this Office is prepared to use the legal tools available to use to keep Rhode Islanders safe. We are using the recently enacted ghost gun law to do just that, having brought more than 50 ghost gun prosecutions over the last two years alone. I am grateful for the continued outstanding work of the men and women of the Rhode Island State Police, with whom this Office works daily to protect Rhode Islanders.”

Had this case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on the morning of November 4, 2021, members of the RISP HIDTA arrested the defendants following the execution of search warrants at an apartment on Plainfield Street in Providence and a storage unit in Cranston, where investigators seized fentanyl, cocaine, a ghost gun, a large-capacity magazine, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia.

Prior to that day, the RISP HIDTA initiated an investigation into suspected drug trafficking by the defendants in the Plainfield Street area of Providence. Investigators identified an apartment on Plainfield Street where they suspected the defendants ran their drug trafficking operation.

Early in the morning on November 4, investigators executed search warrants at the apartment on Plainfield Street and at a storage unit in Cranston from which they seized approximately 1.13 kilograms of fentanyl – including approximately 3,780 fentanyl pills, 45 grams of cocaine, a Polymer80 9mm ghost gun, 97 9mm bullets, an empty 31 round large-capacity 9mm magazine, and drug paraphernalia.

“I applaud the investigative efforts of our Troopers and the Attorney General’s office for bringing the defendants to justice,” said Colonel Darnell S. Weaver. “The illegal, dangerous, and reckless behavior of these defendants placed an untold number of Rhode Islanders at risk and they will be off our streets for a significant amount of time. The Rhode Island State Police is committed to targeting illegal firearms and narcotics trafficking with our partners in law enforcement.”

Lieutenant Derek Melfi and Detective Juan Coronado of the Rhode Island State Police and Special Assistant Attorney General Daniel Hopkins of the Office of the Attorney General conducted the investigation and prosecution of the case.

The RISP HIDTA task force is comprised of Rhode Island State Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); Bureau of Homeland Security (HSI); Providence, Pawtucket, West Warwick, Lincoln, Middletown, North Providence, and Bristol Police Departments; the Rhode Island National Guard Counter Drug Support Program; and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.


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