• Man pleads guilty in large fentanyl-trafficking operation

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    CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A Massachusetts man has pleaded guilty in New Hampshire to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy based on his role in a fentanyl-trafficking operation that brought in thousands of dollars a day.

    A proposed plea agreement for Sergio Martinez, 29, of Lawrence, would require him to serve a 45-year prison sentence and forfeit $2 million in cash, as well as three homes in Lawrence. Martinez' guilty plea Tuesday came on the sixth day of a jury trial in federal court. He's scheduled to be sentenced early next year.

    Prosecutors charged a total of 34 people with participating in the conspiracy. Many pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

    Trial testimony showed that Martinez, who said in a recorded phone call "what we give out is poison," managed numerous people, including runners, phone dispatchers and people who mixed and packaged the drugs. Prosecutors said investigators seized over 12 kilograms (26.5 pounds) of fentanyl from the Martinez organization during the investigation.

    Prosecutors said testimony showed that there were three sets of customers. The first group ordered the smallest amounts of drugs. Phones used to communicate with them were in a home known as "the base." Dispatchers took hundreds of calls daily from customers placing fentanyl orders and directed them to meet distributors in Lawrence and Haverhill, Massachusetts, and sometimes Salem, New Hampshire. Distributors had 200-gram bags of fentanyl that cost $6,000 each. Distributors testified that they sometimes had lines of 10 to 15 customers, most with New Hampshire license plates, waiting for them on the street.

    Testimony showed a second set of customers were serviced by the "big phone." They bought from 10 to 200 grams of fentanyl at a time and distributed it themselves. The third set of customers ordered at least a kilogram or more of fentanyl at a time and called Martinez directly. The drugs would be delivered via taxi.

    Prosecutors said drug runners testified that they provided Martinez with between $30,000 and $35,000 per day based on aggregate drug sales.

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