BOSTON – Eleven Cape Cod and Rhode Island residents were arraigned yesterday in federal court in Boston on a multi-count indictment charging them with participating in a wide-ranging heroin trafficking conspiracy.
According to court documents, in 2018, federal, state and local law enforcement began an investigation focusing on Edwin Otero, the alleged leader of a Cape Cod-wide drug trafficking organization. It is alleged that Otero and his co-conspirators distributed large quantities of heroin throughout Cape Cod - including Hyannis, Mashpee, Centerville, and Osterville, and Pawtucket, R.I. Interceptions from Otero’s cellphones identified 10 other members of his drug trafficking organization, such as Joseph, who is alleged to be Otero’s top lieutenant; Lopes, Otero’s mother, who distributed heroin for Otero; and Basilici and Zangrande, other key members of the Otero drug cell. In addition, interceptions identified other drug traffickers supplied by Otero, including Fray, Cotell (who is still on federal supervised release from a 2017 heroin conviction), Baams, Tony Johnson, Joshua Johnson, and Brando.
On May 8, 2019, Otero, Joseph and Basilici were allegedly involved in a shooting at Fray’s residence related to a drug debt Fray allegedly owed Otero. After the shooting, agents intercepted Otero discussing the fact that he had shot at Fray. Otero, Joseph and Basilici were also allegedly speaking in code about finding and hiding guns used in the shooting.
Each of the 11 defendants were initially charged by criminal complaint on May 20, 2019. As a result of multiple searches, agents seized heroin, oxycodone, packaging materials, scales, a finger press, cash, and three firearms, including a 9 millimeter assault-type weapon, at Otero’s grandmother’s residence that fit an ammunition clip recovered from Fray’s home on the night of the May 8 shooting.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, a minimum of four years of supervised release and a fine of $5 million. Joseph and Tony Johnson face enhanced 10-year mandatory minimum sentences and the possibility of life in prison due to prior drug convictions for which they served more than one year in prison. The charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin carries a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. Cotell and Brando face an enhanced maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and at least six years of supervised release due to prior drug convictions. The charge of discharging a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed on the drug trafficking counts, at least five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; and Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Pohl and Lauren Graber of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.