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Three in violent drug crew arrested in fentanyl operation, one currently at large



Following a month-long investigation by a Massachusetts State Police drug task force, three members of a violent Brockton drug crew were arrested and charged in connection with operating a fentanyl delivery service. One member of the drug organization remains at large.

Placido Armando Pereira, 33; Natalio Miranda, 28; and Djoy Defrancesco, 23, all of Brockton, were arrested this morning and charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl. The defendants were detained following an initial appearance today in US District Court. A fourth defendant, Jason Miranda, 24, of Taunton, remains at large.

Troopers from the Massachusetts State Police, federal Homeland Security Investigations agents, and local officers began investigating a violent Brockton-area drug crew — which calls itself the Head Shot Mafia, Ot HSM — that distributed large quantities of fentanyl throughout southeastern Massachusetts. The crew ran a fentanyl delivery service that encompassed all of Brockton as well as neighboring cities. Specifically, it is alleged that drug users/customers placed orders for fentanyl by contacting a cellphone maintained and shared by HSM crew members, and that HSM members worked together to deliver the fentanyl order. Beginning in September 2019, police succeeded in introducing an undercover law enforcement officer to HSM, who made six purchases of fentanyl from members of the crew.

According to the criminal complaint and court records, the defendants have criminal records. In 2017, Pereira was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to three years in prison. In 2010, Pereira was arrested on drug trafficking charges at Logan Airport as he returned to the U.S. from Cape Verde, and later sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On Feb. 20, 2014, Pereira was the target of an assassination attempt in Brockton.

According to court documents, Natalio Miranda sold fentanyl to the undercover officer while on probation for a state drug trafficking offense. Furthermore, Defrancesco sold fentanyl to the undercover officer while on pre-trial release from a Plymouth Superior Court indictment charging him with trafficking in fentanyl, possession of a firearm, and possession of a high capacity feeding device, among other offenses.

The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation was run by a State Police-led task force, the Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction and Enforcement Team (CINRET), South Team. CINRET South is comprised of members from the Massachusetts State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, Brockton Police Department and East Bridgewater Police Department. CINRET members initially received information regarding a fentanyl Drug Trafficking Organization operating in the Brockton area from the WEB Task Force. The WEB Task Force is comprised of detectives from West Bridgewater Police Department, Bridgewater Police Department, East Bridgewater Police Department, Whitman Police Department and the Bridgewater State University Police Department. The investigation began in September, and on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, received federal search warrants and arrest warrants through the US District Court in Boston.

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