Police: 'Operation Heat' arrests disrupt 'very violent' drug operation

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Residents of Cranston, Johnston and Warwick are among those facing charges as part of an investigation into what authorities are calling a “very violent” group involved in narcotics trafficking.

Rhode Island State Police on Aug. 9 announced multiple arrests as part of “Operation Heat.” The investigation – which officials said remains ongoing – involved three months of court-authorized wiretapping. Additional arrests are expected.

Authorities say two shootings that occurred during the wiretapping have been tied to the group, which is allegedly overseen by 32-year-old Janssye Toucet of North Providence.

The first occurred May 20 at Club Seven on Spruce Street in Providence, resulting in non-life threatening injuries to two people. The second occurred June 16 at El Patio nightclub on Public Street in Providence and resulted in non-life threatening injuries to one person.

State Police Maj. Timothy Sanzi said it is believed the shootings were the result of territorial disputes among street rivals. During a press conference, he declined to characterize the group allegedly led by Toucet as a “gang,” but he said its members have also been linked to past – and planned – crimes such as robberies, home invasions and narcotics and firearms trafficking.

“We’re very pleased that we … interrupted a very violent group and prevented further violence from happening,” he said.

According to a press release, authorities have executed 45 search warrants for homes, vehicles and electronic devices during the course of the investigation. Those searches led to the seizure of four handguns, 13 vehicles, more than $48,000 in cash and a range of controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.

Through the wiretapping portion of the operation, the release states, police intercepted 18,794 calls and text messages.

Sanzi said the arrests announced Friday have occurred over the course of several weeks in multiple communities.

“There wasn’t one big sweep,” he said.

Col. James Manni, superintendent of the State Police, said the announcement represented the “culmination of a long-term investigation” by the agency’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, unit, which includes law enforcement personnel from several cities and towns.

The Rhode Island attorney general’s office, Providence Police and several federal agencies – including the Department of Homeland Security, DEA and ATF – also took part in the investigation.

According to the press release, Toucet – listed as residing at 1775 Bicentennial Way in North Providence – is alleged to have been “involved in the transportation, possession, and use of numerous illegal firearms and organized, orchestrated, and conspired to execute the shooting of rivals, including two recent shootings in the City of Providence, as well as directing the distribution of illegal narcotics.”

He faces a litany of charges, including two counts of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon; two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon; two counts of discharge of firearm resulting in injury; two counts of possession of a pistol without a license; possession of a firearm after a conviction for a crime of violence; two counts of using a firearm while committing a crime of violence; possession of a stolen motor vehicle; three counts of possession of a fentanyl with intent to deliver; three counts of possession of a fentanyl; and controlled substance conspiracy.

Twenty others arrested as part of Operation Heat include:

Jonathan Garrido, 26, 584 Plainfield St., Providence, who is charged with conspiracy to sell a firearm and possession of a firearm after a conviction for a crime of violence.

Tatiana Flores, 25, 38 Marion Ave., Providence, who is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of discharge of firearm resulting in injury, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, and two counts of possession of a pistol without a license.

Anthony Florian, 26, 139 Pierce Ave., Warwick, who is charged with possession of a pistol without a license, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, firing in compact area, eluding police, and possession of a firearm after committing a crime of violence.

Arnold Angeles, 25, 13 Ida St., Providence, who is charged with possession of a pistol without a license, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, firing in compact area, possession of firearm after a conviction for a crime of violence, and obstruction of an officer in execution of duty.

Keven Restrepo, 28, 578 Laurel Hill Ave., Cranston, who is charged with possession of a pistol without a license, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, firing in compact area, and possession of a firearm after committing a crime of violence.

Nathan Geter, 28, 167 Blackstone St., Woonsocket, who is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of firearms while possessing cocaine with intent to deliver, conspiracy to sell a firearm, possession of a controlled substance in a school zone, resisting arrest, and obstruction of an officer in execution of duty.

Romulo Dejesus, 49, 90 Orchard St., Cranston, who is charged with five counts of controlled substance conspiracy, five counts of soliciting another to commit a crime, delivery of fentanyl, and possession of fentanyl.

Michael Desousa, 43, 107 George St., Johnston, who is charged with delivery of fentanyl, three counts of controlled substance conspiracy, possession of fentanyl, and three counts of soliciting another to commit a crime.

Raul Luciano, 28, 7 Belvedere St., Johnston, who is charged with four counts of controlled substance conspiracy and four counts of soliciting another to commit a crime.

Francisco Torres, 27, 584 Plainfield St., Providence, who is charged with controlled substance conspiracy and soliciting another to commit a crime.

Christ Perez, 29, 15 Grosvenor Ave., Providence, who is charged with two counts of controlled substance conspiracy, soliciting another to commit a crime, and delivery of oxycodone.

Joshua Figueroa, 25, 658 Chalkstone Ave., Providence, who is charged with controlled substance conspiracy and soliciting another to commit a crime.

Luis Miranda, 31, 220 Pocasset Ave., Providence, who is charged with two counts of controlled substance conspiracy, two counts of soliciting another to commit a crime, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of fentanyl with intent to deliver, and possession of oxycodone with intent to deliver.

Luis Munoz Mercado, 24 242 Smithfield Road, North Providence, who is charged with six counts of possession of fentanyl with intent to deliver, delivery of a fentanyl, and controlled substance conspiracy.

Migueleyny Pujols, 27, 28 Radcliffe Ave., Providence, who is charged with two counts of controlled substance conspiracy.

Anthony Reid, 32, 381 Sayles St., Providence, who is charged with possession of a firearm after committing a crime of violence, license or permit required for carrying a pistol, and conspiracy.

Moises Elivo Trinidad, 24, 32 Henrietta St., Providence, who is charged with possession of a firearm after a conviction for a crime of violence, license or permit required for carrying a pistol, assault with a dangerous weapon, three counts of simple assault or battery, resisting arrest, obstructing an officer in execution of duty, possession of fentanyl with intent to deliver, possession of fentanyl, distribution of a controlled substance in a school zone, carrying a dangerous weapon/substance while committing a crime of violence, and conspiracy.

Brandor Mendoza, 20, 177 Cleveland St., Providence, who is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of discharge of a firearm resulting in injury, possession of a pistol without a license, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, possession of a firearm after committing a crime of violence, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Maximiliano Recio, 26, 491 Plainfield St., Providence, who is charged with conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of discharge of a firearm resulting in injury, possession of a pistol without a license, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Jayson Rosario, 18, 11 Trask St., Providence, who is charged with license or permit required for carrying a pistol, assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy, and using a firearm while committing a crime of violence.

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