- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 28, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - One of three Dominican brothers that a high-level FBI agent once said ran a “top of the domestic supply chain” illegal drug distribution network in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison.

Claudio Valdez, 46, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island was also sentenced to five years of probation, the U.S attorney for Rhode Island said.

Another brother, Juan Valdez, 51, of Milton, Massachusetts, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14, while the third brother, Hector Valdez, also of Woonsocket, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18.

The drugs shipped from Mexico were kept in stash houses in Rhode Island before being distributed by middle-level and street level dealers in all three states, prosecutors said.

When the Valdezes were arrested in April 2017 as part of an investigation authorities dubbed Operation Triple Play, agents also seized about 4 kilograms of heroin, 2 kilograms of cocaine and 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl as well as about $400,000 in cash and nine vehicles, five of which had hidden compartments used for transporting drugs and money.

“The Valdez brothers are not street-level dealers and runners,” Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, said when they were arrested. “They are kilo-weight suppliers at the top of the domestic supply chain.”

Immigration detainers have been lodged against all three men, who authorities say re-entered the U.S. illegally after having been previously convicted of drug crimes and deported. Juan Valdez has been deported four times, the FBI said.

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