BOSTON – A Salem man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with conspiring to distribute large amounts of fentanyl. Jose Esmerlin Diaz, 36, of Salem, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Sept. 9, 2021.
In January 2020, Diaz was arrested and charged with co-defendant Manuel E. Tajeda, who previously pleaded not guilty. According to charging documents, on Jan. 17, 2020, Diaz delivered an estimated 13,770 fentanyl pills (weighing approximately 1.6 kilograms) disguised as Percocet 30s to a cooperating source at a price of $6 per pill.
Is it alleged that shortly thereafter, Tejeda and another man arrived in the vicinity of the drug transaction to deliver additional pills, and were found in possession of an estimated 29,742 fentanyl pills (weighing approximately 3.0 kilograms). Those additional pills were consistent in appearance with the pills delivered by Diaz and packaged in a similar manner. The charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million.
Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Peabody Police Chief Thomas M. Griffin; and Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe made the announcement today.