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Federal probe cracks North Shore drug ring

Bags of counterfeit pills seized
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A Revere man and his Saugus brother are alleged ringleaders among the 23 individuals charged with trafficking counterfeit prescription pills

  (Editor’s Note: The following story is based on a press release issued this week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.)

  Federal officials say a Revere man and his Saugus brother were the leaders of a North Shore-based drug trafficking organization (DTO) that allegedly manufactured and distributed tens of thousands of counterfeit prescription pills containing narcotics.

  Christopher Nagle, a/k/a “Cuda,” 28, of Revere and his brother, Lawrence Michael Nagle, a/k/a “Mikey,” 32, of Saugus, had been identified as far back as 2018 as leaders of a DTO distributing various controlled substances throughout the North Shore region of Massachusetts, according to documents filed by federal investigators. Federal agents alleged that the Nagle DTO distributed significant quantities of various controlled substances: Adderall (both pharmaceutical-grade pills and counterfeit pills containing methamphetamine), methamphetamine, Xanax, Oxycodone (both pharmaceutical-grade and counterfeit pills containing fentanyl), cocaine and marijuana, among others. The Nagle brothers were among 23 members of the DTO charged this week. Also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute controlled substances were Justin Westmoreland, 24, of Saugus, and Anna Bryson, 59, of Saugus.

  “Since taking office 10 months ago, we have worked tirelessly in collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat the deadly drug and opioid crisis poisoning our Commonwealth,” United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said.

  “Last year we lost over 2000 lives. Loved ones taken, stolen from us. And to be clear – counterfeit prescription pills being sold on the street are part of the problem. Swallowing a deadly drug can have the same fatal outcome as injecting one. These charges are an important step in slowing and ending the near constant stream of illegal drugs flowing into our communities,” Rollins said.

  “We allege the defendants participated in a large-scale drug ring that was prepared to distribute tens of thousands of counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine in addition to the counterfeit Adderall pills and counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl that they were actually distributing into neighborhoods on the North Shore,” she said.

  “Disguised to look like your average prescriptions from the pharmacy, these pills contained deadly narcotics – including fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine, and methamphetamine, which also has been responsible for countless overdose deaths. As a result of this investigation, North Shore residents are safer now with more than 74,000 potentially deadly pills removed from their streets.”

  The Nagle DTO allegedly distributed controlled substances to a small network of individuals who would then redistribute the drugs to other traffickers, including separate, but interconnected, organizations. These smaller organizations were allegedly headed by Nelson Mora, a/k/a “Nellie,” 29, of Lynn; Javier Bello, a/k/a “Javi,” 27, of Beverly; and Anthony Bryson, 33, of Billerica. Federal investigators alleged that Mora, Bello and Bryson obtained their drug supply from other sources at times and that Mora and Bryson had access to pill press machines used to create counterfeit pills.

  The investigation resulted in numerous seizures of controlled substances, including the following: over 74,000 counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine, weighing more than 24 kilograms; 591 counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine; 1,000 counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl; and 101 counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

  During the execution of federal search warrants this week, investigators seized a pill press hidden under a sheet in a basement laundry room, plastic bags containing approximately three to four kilograms of suspected powdered fentanyl in various colors, various quantities of suspected counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine and various quantities of suspected counterfeit oxycodone containing fentanyl. Many of the suspected counterfeit pills were packaged for sale. A firearm and additional suspected counterfeit pills containing controlled substances were also seized from inside a furniture hide.

  “Massachusetts is in the midst of a devastating opioid crisis as deaths from deadly fake pills soar,” said Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Boston Field Division.

  “The DEA will continue to use every resource available to identify those who are contributing to the crisis. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to put other callous distributors behind bars,” Boyle said.

  Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, commended the DEA, our Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Trafficking Reduction and Enforcement task force, and the multiple partner agencies “for their superb work interdicting this drug organization.”

  “The practice of disguising fentanyl and other dangerous drugs as prescription medication is especially nefarious for the dangers it poses to unsuspecting users and the new addictions it fuels,” Col. Mason said.

  “The neighborhoods of the North Shore are safer today for their efforts,” he said.

  Conviction on the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute controlled substances provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, at least three years of supervised release and fines of up to $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

  U.S. Attorney Rollins, DEA SAC Boyle, MSP Superintendent Colonel Mason, Melrose Police Chief Michael L. Lyle, Lowell Police Interim Superintendent Barry Golner and Lynn Police Chief Christopher P. Reddy made the announcement on Wednesday (Oct. 26). They credited the Beverly, Billerica, Everett, Peabody, Revere, Salem, Saugus and Swampscott Police Departments with providing “valuable assistance.”

  Assistant U.S. Attorneys James E. Arnold, Ann Taylor, and Evan D. Panich of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the case.

  This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF

Bags of counterfeit pills seized
The seized pill press (Courtesy photo by the U.S. Attorney’s Office/Boston)
The Seized Pill Press
Bags of counterfeit pills seized – more than 74,000 dangerous pills. (Courtesy photo by the U.S. Attorney’s Office/Boston)

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