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, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.