The Devil’s Highway Leads to Prison

Open security lock on credit cards with computer keyboard / Credit card data breach

“Operation Devil’s Highway” focused on putting a stop to drug distribution in Lawrence, Mass., and drug trafficking between the city and the State of New Hampshire. The investigation, which involved more than two dozen law enforcement agencies, resulted in federal drug charges against 40 people and at least another 12 individuals are facing state charges.

Cesar Lara Castillo, 37, a Dominican national and former resident of Lawrence, is one of those charged individuals who pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl, identity theft and fraudulent use of a Social Security number. (And now he’s in a heap of trouble.)

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) describes Fentanyl as a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. (That explains why people are prone to get addicted to the substance.) Fentanyl can be substituted for Heroin and it has a high risk for fatal overdose.

On July 10, 2019, Castillo arrived at a site where a pre-arranged sale of fentanyl was scheduled to occur. He was found in possession of approximately 53 grams or nearly two ounces of a substance that contained fentanyl, which was packaged in five cylinders designed for distribution. (Keep in mind that a lethal dose of fentanyl is generally stated to be 2 milligrams. A little bit can kill you for sure.)

Not only did Castillo get caught for intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance, he presented a Massachusetts driver’s license that he had obtained from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) using a U.S. Citizen’s personal information, including their Social Security number.

Castillo made the right decision and pleaded guilty to his charges. The judge sentenced him to 44 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Congratulations to the law enforcement agencies involved in stopping the distribution of dangerous opioids throughout New England. While the Devil’s Highway went through Lawrence, it ultimately led to prison for this perpetrator, and most likely the other 39 co-conspirators.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Dominican National Sentenced for Fentanyl and False Identity Crimes,” dated June 30, 2021.

BOSTON – A Dominican national was sentenced on Monday, June 28 in federal court in Boston for distributing fentanyl, identity theft and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.

Cesar Lara Castillo, 37, a Dominican national previously residing in Lawrence, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 44 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In October 2020, Castillo pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, one count of false representation of Social Security number and one count of aggravated identity theft.


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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.