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Feds pocket nearly $942k after fentanyl bust at Mass. apartment

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 23. 2017 9:49PM


The federal government grew nearly $942,000 richer this week, when a U.S. District Court judge approved the forfeiture of cash that police discovered when they raided a suspected Nashua-area drug dealer's home in May, according to court records.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents found the cash hidden throughout the Methuen, Mass., apartment of a man they initially identified as Andres Lopez Gomez, court records say. They also found two firearms, 2 pounds of fentanyl and 40 pounds of marijuana, which was packaged in bales, during the raid.

"It's a substantial case," said John Farley, the acting U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire.

Gomez's arrest, as well as that of Jaime Ramos-Torres, took place after a confidential police source made four separate purchases of fentanyl in Nashua. The two men are in jail awaiting trial, which is scheduled for January, Farley said.

Last Monday, a federal judge signed a final order of forfeiture, turning the money - $941,994 to be exact - over to the U.S. Marshals Service. Farley said federal law dictates how the money will be distributed.

He said Gomez's lawyer was contacted about the forfeiture, but never filed a legal challenge. In many forfeiture cases, a criminal defendant will challenge forfeiture, but ask that the matter be delayed until after the criminal case is decided.

"In this situation, no one filed a claim against the property. It becomes the property of the United States," Farley said.

All of the information about the case is spelled out in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Concord.

Gomez and Ramos-Torres were arrested the same day as the raid, and a federal grand jury indicted the pair in late May. Prosecutors can't say who they are with certainty. Gomez has gone by the aliases of Raul Arias Lopez and Samuel Melendez.

Although court papers mention the aliases, they were indicted as FNU LNU - first name unknown, last name unknown.

Authorities derived the name of Gomez from a Pennsylvania driver's license he provided during a traffic stop. Ramos-Torres' name was derived from a Massachusetts driver's license.

In a court affidavit, Nashua police officer Adalberto Garcia, a deputized DEA agent, said that a confidential source purchased the drugs from Ramos-Torres.

He was identified as a runner for Gomez, and both face conspiracy charges in the case. Ramos-Torres faces four charges of drug sales as well.

In three of the four sales, Ramos-Torres allegedly told the buyer he was selling heroin but actually provided fentanyl.

Sales took place at the parking lots of Chili's and Market Basket in Nashua. The fentanyl, sold in batches of 20 or 50 grams, was concealed inside a cordless drill or a tube of caulking.

When police tailed Ramos-Torres, they believed he made drug sales during quick visits to addresses in Plaistow and Newton, as well as Lawrence and Methuen, Mass.

The May raid of the apartments at 167 East St., Methuen, found:

. $32,980 in a Nike shoe box on a second floor room.

. $18,980 in a Sentry Safe in the closet on the second floor.

. $484 in Gomez's wallet.

. $6,375 in the pocket of a jacket hanging in a second-floor bedroom closet.

. $24,000 in a black plastic bag found in the ceiling of the second-floor sneaker room.

. $109,339 in a shoe rack box in the rear hallway.

. $339,840 in a hoverboard box in the rear hallway.

. $410,005 in a trash can in the rear hallway.

Ramos-Torres was initially assigned a public defender; he left the case and Manchester lawyer Larry Vogelman was assigned the Ramos-Torres case. Gomez has retained Nashua lawyer Adam Harris Bernstein.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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