Providence man sentenced to serve 14 years in state prison for possessing illegal guns and fentanyl


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Providence man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve 14 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) stemming from his 2020 arrest for illegally possessing two pistols and fentanyl.


Francisco Vega (age 36) entered a plea of nolo contendere to possession with the intent to deliver fentanyl, carrying a pistol without a license, and two counts of possession of a firearm after a previous conviction for a crime of violence.


At a hearing on November 15, 2021, before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers, the Court sentenced Vega to 20 years at the ACI with 14 years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.


“Violence in our urban core is driven by illegal firearms in the hands of criminals willing to use them to settle scores or, as in this case, to advance and protect their drug trafficking activities,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The defendant here, armed with multiple firearms and plainly in the business of dealing the most lethal illegal narcotic available, deserves every minute of the long sentence imposed by the Court. The outstanding work of the Providence Police Department here plainly saved lives.”


Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on the morning of August 19, 2020, members of the Providence Police Department seized two pistols and fentanyl from Vega following a motor vehicle stop and execution of a search warrant at his residence on Gallatin Street in Providence.


Leading up to his arrest, the Providence Police Department identified Vega as suspect in a narcotics investigation. On August 19, investigators seized a Taurus .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol loaded with 11 rounds, plus one in the chamber, following a motor vehicle stop at the intersection of Thurbers Avenue and Lenox Avenue.


Investigators then executed a search warrant at Vega’s residence on Gallatin Street and seized a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm semi-automatic pistol, loaded with 8 rounds, plus one in the chamber. Investigators also seized 58.2 grams of fentanyl, packaged in separate bags, along with smaller quantities of cocaine and 59 rounds of ammunition.


“Possession of dangerous narcotics and illegal firearms has been the cause of destruction and violence that has plagued our communities and ruined lives and families,” said Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety. “This investigation demonstrates the continued commitment of law enforcement partners working together to hold individuals accountable who choose to participate in the drug and gun game. I thank the members of the RI Attorney General's Office and the Providence Police Department for the successful investigation and prosecution of this case.”


Under Rhode Island law, individuals convicted of crimes of violence are prohibited from possessing firearms. Francisco Vega was previously convicted of second-degree murder, which occurred on February 12, 2002.


Special Assistant Attorney General Edward G. Mullaney of the Office of the Attorney General and Detectives Isaiah Nerney and Vincent LaBianca of the Providence Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.