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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jury: Lawrence man ran drug-dealing group in Nashua, Lowell

CONCORD – A federal jury found a Massachusetts man guilty of selling more than half a pound of crack cocaine in Nashua and other cities over five years.

The jury convicted Rafael “Juan” Benitez, 45, of Lawrence, of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and unlawful distribution of more than 280 grams of crack after a trial at U.S. District Court, according to U.S. Attorney John Kacavas.

Benitez was indicted on the charges by a grand jury in May, and testimony at trial convinced the jury he headed a drug organization that sold crack in Nashua and the Drum Hill area of Chelmsford and Lowell, Mass., from 2005-11, Kacavas said.

The group used “runners” to deliver the drugs in and around the Pheasant Lane Mall area, Kacavas said.

Benitez is scheduled to be sentenced July 20 and faces a mandatory 10 years in federal prison and a $2 million fine. He will be subject to deportation to the Dominican Republic when he’s released, Kacavas said.

The investigation involved a number of police agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Nashua and Lowell police departments, Kacavas said.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Cole Davis and Seth Aframe, Kacavas said.