FBI seeks warrants to search for customers, sources tied to Valdez drug ring

Organizational chart from Operation Triple Play.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation filed nearly three dozen search warrant requests to conduct forensic examinations of phones confiscated during multi-state raids.

Dubbed Operation Triple Play, the dragnet swept through 14 homes from Woonsocket to Providence, and into Massachusetts and Connecticut, aimed at what the FBI called the Valdez Drug Trafficking Organization, which was allegedly run by three brothers.

Juan Valdez, 50, Hector Valdez, 47, and Claudio Valdez, 44, are Dominican nationals who were living in Woonsocket until their arrests.

The men were cuffed last month along with 13 other suspects for allegedly leading the drug ring that transported cocaine, heroin and other drugs from Mexico to Rhode Island. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the cash and drugs were stashed in several homes in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The FBI filed search warrant applications on Tuesday to electronically examine 34 of the 40 phone devices that were confiscated from the suspects.

The documents were nearly identical, other than the phone numbers from the various devices. The filings indicate the information agents are looking for includes communications between the co-conspirators, lists of customers and their addresses and phone numbers and information about the sources of the drugs, including their names, addresses and phone numbers.

According to the documents, agents will also be looking for financial records, including bank and credit card statements and money transfers.

Operation Triple Play pulled more than 16 pounds of drugs off the streets, including nearly nine pounds of heroin. Federal and state investigators also seized about 26 pounds of powdery substances that had yet to be analyzed at the time of the arrests.

In addition to snaring the suspects and the drugs, officers confiscated about $95,000 in cash and nine vehicles. Five of the vehicles were said to have hidden compartments that were allegedly used for transporting drugs and money.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.