FBI investigating drug trafficking organization tied to RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A more than 200-page FBI affidavit details a six-month investigation into the drug trafficking activities of Dominican brothers, Hector, 47, Juan, 50, and Claudio Valdez, 44.

On Wednesday, 16 people, all currently living in Rhode Island, were arrested in connection to the Valdez drug trafficking organization (DTO). Some were arraigned in Providence Federal Court, where we obtained the FBI affidavit.

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The 16 suspects — the Valdez brothers and their alleged accomplices — face charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, cocaine base, and heroin, plus the unlawful use of communication facilities in committing or facilitating the commission of felony controlled substance offenses.

The Valdez brothers are also charged with “being an alien who has illegally reentered the United States after deportation.” The report indicates the three had each been deported within the past 10 years.

According to the affidavit, the Valdez brothers are “high-level cocaine and heroin traffickers.”

The affidavit states search warrants were executed at homes in Woonsocket and Providence, where the Valdez brothers and some of their accomplices live. Searches were also conducted at possible “stash houses” in Woonsocket and Cranston.

Seven of the suspects’ cars, which law enforcement believe were used to facilitate drug trafficking offenses, were seized.

According to the affidavit, information was provided to the FBI by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island, New England and across the country. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, Rhode Island State Police, Providence Police, Woonsocket Police, Central Falls Police, Cranston Police, and Rhode Island Department of Corrections also contributed to the investigation.

The FBI also relied on business records, public and law enforcement databases, and several court-ordered wiretap investigations.

The affidavit states that several sources have cooperated in the investigation, which dates back to August 2016.

One source told investigators he had purchased heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and crack cocaine from Hector Valdez and his accomplice Tanya Croteau. The source said he had known the pair for approximately two years, and that they distributed drugs throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Another source shared information with investigators regarding Juan and Claudio Valdez, who he says distributed heroin and cocaine together.

The affidavit indicates investigators obtained warrants to wiretap several of the suspects’ telephones and GPS devices.

According to the affidavit, the FBI has been “continuously conducting the current investigation of the Valdez brothers and their drug trafficking organization (the Valdez DTO) for over six months.”

The affidavit says the FBI believes Hector Valdez has been in the business of drug dealing “at a highly sophisticated level” since at least 2007.

During the investigation, the FBI’s two cooperating sources committed 32 controlled buys and payments with the Valdez operation, totaling $43,800. These were primarily for heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. The buys were committed from October 2016 to April 2017.

Hector Valdez, 47, is an organizer of the Valdez DTO. The report says he was deported in 2009, and has a drug criminal history dating back to 1989.

Juan Valdez, 50, is also an organizer of the Valdez DTO, who was deported from the U.S. in 2011. The FBI calls him “a high-level cocaine and heroin distributor operating in the Providence metropolitan area.”

Claudio Valdez, 44, is another organizer of the Valdez DTO, who was deported from the U.S. in 2013. Reports indicate he lives in Woonsocket.

According to the affidavit, the FBI believe the Valdez brothers are “dealing with a Drug Trafficking Organization as a source of supply rather than an individual drug trafficker.”

The affidavit says the suspects “all conspired, committed, and aided and abetted each other to commit controlled substance violations, have used telephone communication devices to commit those crimes and some have committed immigration offenses.”

The Rhode Island U.S. Attorney is holding a news conference Thursday at 10:30 a.m. regarding the investigation. Stay with Eyewitness News for the latest details.