PROVIDENCE – A suspected drug trafficker who fled members of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force in Pawtucket in early April and was arrested the next day in Fall River is facing a minimum of 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in federal court in Providence today to fentanyl and cocaine trafficking charges, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
In early April members of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force suspected that Luis Leon, 24, was expecting a large shipment of fentanyl. Task force members established surveillance of Leon’s Pawtucket residence, and on April 9 watched as an individual entered Leon’s residence carrying a large duffel bag. A short time later, Leon left the residence carrying the duffel bag, which he placed in the back of a dark colored pickup truck, and then drove off in the truck.
As law enforcement moved into position to follow Leon, he repeatedly looked in his rear view mirrors at their vehicle. As they attempted to effect a traffic stop, signaling Leon to stop by illuminating their flashing lights and engaging their siren, he drove off at a high rate of speed. Because of the reckless manner in which Leon was operating the truck, investigators did not pursue the vehicle. They continued to drive the route Leon’s truck appeared to take, coming upon an accident scene a short distance away. Witnesses told police that a pickup truck struck a vehicle causing the vehicle to careen into a building. Witnesses told police the pickup truck fled the accident scene without stopping.
Several minutes later, law enforcement learned that a pickup truck with heavy front end damage was pulled into a nearby parking lot and abandoned. A witness advised law enforcement that he saw the driver get out of the vehicle, toss a duffel bag into bushes nearby, and run off. The description of the driver fit the description of Leon. Agents retrieved the bag, which was found to contain approximately 634.4 grams of suspected fentanyl and approximately 429.5 grams of suspected cocaine.
Later that night members of the task force developed information that Leon was likely staying at a residence in Fall River. They established surveillance of the residence and arrested Leon the following afternoon as he exited the building.
Appearing today before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Leon pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 29, 2019.
Possession with the intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl is punishable by statutory penalties of 10 years to life imprisonment and a term of supervised release of at least 3 years and up to lifetime. Possession with intent to distribute cocaine is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and a term of supervised release of at least 3 years and up to lifetime.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan.