U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Rhode Island
(401) 709-5000
September 30, 2015

Heroin Trafficker Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

PROVIDENCE, RI—Jorge Franco, 37, of Pawtucket, was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison for trafficking heroin, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Newport Police Chief Gary T. Silva.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Franco to serve four years’ supervised release upon completion of his prison term. Franco, a Guatemalan national, also faces deportation proceedings. He pleaded guilty on April 1, 2015 to possession with the intent to distribute heroin.

According to court records and information presented to the court, in late June 2014, a Newport police detective developed information that a large shipment of heroin was expected to be delivered in Newport in the coming days. Two days later, on June 29, 2014, the detective learned that the shipment of heroin was expected to arrive that evening inside a vehicle with Massachusetts license plates being driven by a Hispanic male. A description of the vehicle was provided to police. The heroin delivery was expected to take place in the parking lot of a convenience store located a short distance from the Newport Bridge.

Shortly before 11:00 p.m. on June 29, 2014, law enforcement spotted a vehicle with Massachusetts license plates being driven by a male fitting the description previously provided to Newport detectives exiting the Newport Bridge. The vehicle was followed as it made its way into the parking lot of a nearby convenience store a short distance from the bridge. Once stopped, law enforcement approached the vehicle and detected a strong odor of narcotics.

Upon questioning, the driver indicated to law enforcement that drugs would be found concealed inside clothing inside the vehicle. With the driver’s permission, law enforcement searched the vehicle and discovered a bag containing clothing and bedding. The bag was taken to the Newport Police Department and searched.

Inside the bag, wrapped in the clothing and bedding, law enforcement discovered seven packages of Guatemalan coffee and nine packages of Guatemalan food products. Three of the coffee packages contained a total of 947.3 grams of pure heroin. A DEA chemist who examined the heroin reported that it was extremely rare to find heroin of this purity. The four remaining packages contained a total of 1,359 grams of extremely potent heroin. Inside the nine food packages law enforcement discovered nearly 4,000 grams of phenylacetic acid, a substance commonly used to produce methamphetamine.

Franco has been detained since his arrest on June 29, 2014.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.

The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force assisted Newport Police in the investigation of this matter.

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