BOSTON – A Holbrook man was sentenced and a Boston man pleaded guilty yesterday in connection with their respective roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy.
Andre Echevarria, 41, of Holbrook, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In September 2021, Echevarria pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
Tarik Muhammad, 27, of Boston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Judge Stearns scheduled sentencing for June 21, 2022.
The defendants were charged in June 2020 along with 23 others as part of “Operation Snowfall” – a multi-year investigation into drug trafficking activities by a drug trafficking organization (DTO) comprised of Boston-based street gang members and associates. According to the charging documents, beginning in November 2018, law enforcement investigated drug trafficking activities by Boston-based street gang members and associates in the Commonwealth Development in Brighton, formerly known as Fidelis Way, a multi-apartment public housing development. It is alleged that the defendants, through their drug trafficking activities, assumed control over multiple apartments, where they stored, cooked, packaged and sold drugs. As a result, their activities caused a blight of the development and reduced the quality of life of the other residents.
The investigation also targeted large-scale drug suppliers and their associates. It is alleged that the targets continued to distribute cocaine and cocaine base throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown.
The investigation identified Echevarria as a drug trafficker who purchased cocaine from co-defendants and wholesale drug suppliers Winston McGhee and, allegedly, Derek Hart. According to the charging documents, McGhee and Hart were the two highest-level drug suppliers within the DTO. Over the course of the investigation, investigators identified Echevarria coordinating drug deals on intercepted calls with others, including McGhee and allegedly Hart, and also surveilled him participating in drug trafficking activity. On a call in April 2020, Echevarria received a “cooking class” from McGhee in which McGhee instructed him on how to convert cocaine into crack with the powder he had previously sold to him. When those efforts failed, Echevarria returned cocaine to McGhee in exchange for a replacement batch.
During a search of Echevarria’s vehicle at the time of his arrest, law enforcement recovered a Smith & Wesson .380 caliber pistol with an obliterated serial number. A search of his residence resulted in the seizure of a Smith & Wesson magazine and 10 rounds of ammunition.
The investigation also identified Muhammad as a drug distributor. Law enforcement intercepted calls between Muhammad and Kenji Drayton, one of the main suppliers and distributors within the DTO, in which they coordinated a meetup. Law enforcement subsequently surveilled Drayton’s meeting with Muhammad at an agreed-upon location discussed in the calls. Soon thereafter, Drayton entered a location known to have been used by Drayton during the investigation for drug trafficking purposes. After emerging minutes later, Drayton joined Muhammad in a vehicle and drove away. Law enforcement stopped the car soon after and ordered the occupants Muhammad out of the car. While searching Muhammad for possible weapons or drugs, law enforcement felt an object at the crease of Muhammad’s buttocks. Law enforcement restrained Muhammad, placed him in the back of an empty, clean police wagon, and transported him to the police station.
During the transport, law enforcement saw Muhammad throw himself to the ground and thrash about. Officers radioed those observations onto the station. When the wagon arrived at the station, Muhammad was observed to be covered with white powder. The back of the wagon also was dusted with white powder. Officers subsequently recovered a ripped plastic bag containing a white residue from the outer area of Muhammad’s buttocks.
Of the defendants charge in this case, Muhammad is the 12th defendant to plead guilty and Echevarria is the seventh defendant to be sentenced. Four defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Four defendants have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. One defendant, Derek Hart, remains at large.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to life of supervised release, and a fine 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.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (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.
First Assistant United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division; Douglas Bartlett, Acting U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Boston Police Acting Commissioner Gregory Long made the announcement. Assistance in the investigation was provided by the Braintree, Cambridge, Canton, Randolph and Weymouth Police Departments; the Suffolk, Norfolk and Bristol County District Attorneys’ Offices; and the Suffolk, Plymouth and Norfolk County Sheriffs’ Offices. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kaitlin R. O’Donnell and Timothy E. Moran of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit prosecuted the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.