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Federal agents arrest Saugus man for controlled substance conspiracy

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

  A Saugus man and a Reading man have been arrested in connection with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Aaron Lenardis, 36, of Saugus, and Charles Brennick Bates, 31, of Reading, were each charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Following initial appearances on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 in federal court in Boston before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell, the defendants were detained pending a further hearing.

  According to the charging documents, in August 2022, federal law enforcement opened an investigation into Bates after he ordered 50 kilograms of an orange binding agent commonly used to make counterfeit Adderall pills. During subsequent surveillance, Bates was allegedly observed transporting a large, heavy item that appeared to be a pill press to Lenardis’ residence in Saugus. It is alleged that on Sept. 3, 2022, Bates called a confidential source asking for instruction on how to change a “punch” on a TDP5 machine. A punch is the component that can stamp letters onto pills, and a TDP5 machine is a large pill press.

  During a search of Lenardis’ residence in Saugus on Oct. 25, investigators reportedly recovered an industrial pill press, 14 firearms, several bins of loose orange and white powder and “M30” stamps commonly used to manufacture counterfeit pills, counterfeit Adderall suspected to contain methamphetamine and oxycodone pills suspected to contain fentanyl.

  “These charges are yet another example of my office’s efforts to address the near constant stream of illegal drugs flowing into our communities. We must reduce and ultimately eliminate overdose deaths,” United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said. “Swallowing a deadly drug can have the same fatal outcome as injecting one. The only difference is that, with the recent spike in counterfeit pill distribution, someone may not even know that they’re taking a deadly narcotic.”

  “Fentanyl and methamphetamine are causing tremendous damage to our community,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Brian D. Boyle. “Those who distribute these drugs within fake prescription pills are endangering the safety of the citizens of Massachusetts. The DEA will continue to work each day alongside our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who are responsible for distributing fentanyl and other deadly drugs. We won’t stop until they are brought to justice.”

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

  U.S. Attorney Rollins and DEA SAC Boyle made the announcement on Oct. 27. Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel R. Feldman of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.

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