Pawtucket man who possessed illegal gun and large
capacity magazine sentenced to serve 8 years in state
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Pawtucket man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve eight years the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) following a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and the Providence Police Department into illegal firearms and drug trafficking in the greater Providence area.
Antonio Vazquez (age 26) entered a plea of nolo contendere to possession of a firearm after being convicted of a crime of violence, possession of a ghost gun, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, possession of controlled substances (fentanyl, cocaine, and marijuana) with intent to deliver, possession of one ounce to one kilogram of fentanyl, and conspiracy.
At a hearing on November 3, 2021, before Superior Court Justice David Cruise, the Court sentenced Vazquez to serve eight years at the ACI, to be followed by a 10-year suspended sentence with probation.
Vazquez and three others were arrested in July after investigators seized over 1,500 fentanyl pills, a ghost gun, an illegal handgun, and a large capacity magazine from residences in Providence and Pawtucket.
“As we have seen time and time again, drug traffickers are moving significant amounts of fentanyl while armed with guns – particularly illegal guns with large capacity magazines – and pose a threat to the safety of Rhode Islanders,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Too often that dangerous combination is fueling street violence and overdoses, causing tragic outcomes in our communities. This Office is working with the Providence Police Department, the Pawtucket Police Department, and other law enforcement partners to investigate drug trafficking and gun violence cases that cross city boundaries in the greater Providence area.
“This is the type of result we can expect when that partnership operates successfully – lengthy prison sentences for the purveyors of illegal guns and fentanyl in our communities,” continued Attorney General Neronha. “I am grateful for our partners in law enforcement and anticipate that we will continue to produce strong results for the people of Rhode Island.”
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on July 7, 2021, Providence police officers, deputized by the Attorney General, executed search warrants at homes in Providence and Pawtucket, where they seized multiple illegal firearms, a large capacity magazine, over 1,500 fentanyl pills, marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, approximately $18,000 in cash, and drug paraphernalia.
On that day, Providence Police detectives arrested Jose Martinez, following a vehicle stop, and seized approximately 97 fentanyl pills and approximately $1,500 in cash.
Shortly thereafter, detectives executed a search warrant at a residence on Salina Street in Providence, where they seized approximately 800 additional fentanyl pills and arrested Sheridan Fernandez.
Detectives later arrested Vazquez following the execution of a search warrant at a residence and vehicle on Dunnell Avenue in Pawtucket, where law enforcement seized approximately 630 fentanyl pills; amounts of crack cocaine, heroin, and marijuana; a Polymer80 .40 caliber ghost gun with a 30-round magazine containing 23 rounds and laser attachment; a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol with an obliterated serial number; approximately $18,000 in cash; and drug paraphernalia.
Detectives also arrested Malayshia Iaciofano-Murray at the residence on Dunnell Avenue.
"The Providence Police Intelligence and Organized Crime Bureau, in coordination with members of the Narcotics Bureau, have proven once again that illegal drugs and firearms will not be tolerated," said Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety. "The arrests that resulted from this investigation should send a clear message that the Providence Police will continue their efforts to rid our streets of violent criminals involved in drug and firearm operations. I thank our law enforcement partners at the Attorney General's Office for their tireless efforts in the prosecution of this case and commend our officers for their outstanding work throughout this investigation."
The prosecution against Martinez is pending in Providence County Superior Court. The prosecutions against Fernandez and Iaciofano-Murray are pending in Providence County District Court.
Detectives Jonathan Desmarais and Matthew McGloin of the Providence Police Department and Investigator William Dwyer, Assistant Attorney General Joseph J. McBurney, and Special Assistant Attorney General Edward G. Mullaney of the Office of the Attorney General led the investigation and prosecution of the case, with assistance from Detective Andrew Torres of the Pawtucket Police Department.