CAMDEN, N.J. – A Philadelphia man today admitted his role in a fentanyl distribution conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Jonathan Rivera Pagan, 37, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to an information charging him with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In early 2020, Rivera Pagan and his conspirator, Ronal Alberto Hernandez Pinales, met and communicated about fentanyl trafficking and firearms. On March 2, 2020, Rivera Pagan and Hernandez Pinales arranged to deliver fentanyl to another individual.
On March 2, 2020, Rivera Pagan and Hernandez Pinales drove separately to the parking lot of a building in Gloucester County to conduct the planned fentanyl transaction. Shortly thereafter, Rivera Pagan and Hernandez Pinales fled from the parking lot, after seeing what they believed to be law enforcement presence in the area. Rivera Pagan was later arrested in the parking lot of a nearby bar, and Hernandez Pinales was arrested near a highway. Law enforcement officers recovered approximate 900 grams of fentanyl from Hernandez Pinales’ car, as well as cellphones from Rivera Pagan and Hernandez Pinales that contained drug-related communications.
The charge to which Pagan pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Sentencing is scheduled for March 5, 2021.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and task force officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s plea. He also thanked the Gloucester County Prosecutors Office, the East Greenwich Police Department, and the N.J. State Police Canine Tactical Applications Group for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara A. Aliabadi of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
The count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl against Hernandez Pinales remains pending, and he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.