PROVIDENCE – Three people charged in a wide-ranging FBI drug and firearm trafficking investigation face between 5-40 years in federal prison after admitting to a judge today that they participated in a conspiracy that distributed significant quantities of crack cocaine and fentanyl in Woonsocket and elsewhere.
Angel Aviles, 20, of Cranston, and Juan Batista, 35, and Natalie Cassidy, 27, both of Woonsocket, are among nearly two-dozen individuals charged during an expansive investigation begun in January 2020 by the FBI Rhode Island Safe Streets Gang Task Force targeting sources of supply for drugs and firearms. The investigation determined that Aviles, Batista, and Cassidy worked together to distribute fentanyl and crack cocaine.
According to information presented to the court, Aviles often brokered the sale of fentanyl and crack cocaine supplied by Batista, who, at times, brokered his own drug deals. On several occasions, Cassidy delivered crack cocaine and fentanyl purchases, collected payment from the buyer, and offered to be a point of contact for drug purchases.
Between February 26, and June 23, 2020, members of the FBI Task Force surveilled at least six occasions when drug purchases were requested from and delivered by members of the conspiracy. The transactions included deliveries of between 7.4 and 36.2 grams of crack cocaine and 5.3 grams of fentanyl, for between $360 and $1,800.
Appearing today before U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Juan Batista pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 28 or more grams of cocaine base, distribution of 28 or more grams of cocaine base, and possession with intent to distribute 40 or more grams of fentanyl; Angel Aviles pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 28 or more grams of cocaine base and distribution of 28 or more grams of cocaine base; Natalie Cassidy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 28 or more grams of cocaine base, distribution of cocaine base and fentanyl, and possession with intent to distribute 40 or more grams of fentanyl.
At sentencing, the defendants face statutory penalties of between 5-40 years of incarceration in federal prison.
Angel Aviles, Juan Batista, and Natalie Cassidy’s guilty pleas are announced by Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine D. Lowell.
The FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force consists of agents and law enforcement officers from the FBI, Rhode Island State Police, the Providence, Cranston, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, West Warwick, and Central Falls Police Departments, and the U.S. Marshals Service.