Providence man sentenced to serve 3.5 years in state prison for possessing illegal gun and drug trafficking


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Providence man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve three and a half years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) stemming from his arrest by the Providence Police Department for possessing an illegal pistol and MDMA (ecstasy/molly).


Jonathan Mercado (age 32) waived criminal information and entered a plea of nolo contendere to possession of a pistol without a license, possession with intent to deliver MDMA, and failure to stop for an accident resulting in property damage.


At a hearing on December 14, 2021, before Superior Court Justice David Cruise, the Court sentenced the defendant to serve three and a half years at the ACI, followed by six and a half years of a suspended sentence, and 10 years of probation.


“Over and over again, we’ve seen armed drug dealers drive violence in our urban core.  Many of those cases have involved precisely the scenario at play here: a drug dealer, armed and on the move in the City of Providence. It does not take much of an imagination to envision a violent outcome for someone but for the quick and effective work of the men and women of the Providence Police Department to get this defendant off the street,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Off to prison he goes, and Rhode Islanders are safer for it.”


Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on July 14, 2021, members of the Providence Police Department arrested the defendant, following a vehicle pursuit and foot chase, while he was in possession of an illegal pistol and MDMA.


On that day, Providence police officers observed the defendant driving a gray van while appearing to be speeding. Once officers began to follow the defendant, he increased his speed and made several turns without his turn signal before running a red light at the intersection of Atwells Avenue and Valley Street and crashing into another vehicle.


The defendant ran away from the scene of the crash while carrying a grocery bag and fanny pack. While in pursuit of the defendant, officers observed him drop both bags behind a parked vehicle. Once officers apprehended the defendant, they discovered that one of the bags contained a Smith and Wesson 9mm semi-automatic handgun loaded with 17 rounds, as well as approximately 30 MDMA pills, and drug paraphernalia.


Officer David Liu of the Providence Police Department and Special Assistant Attorney General Gregory Abilheira of the Office of the Attorney General led the investigation and prosecution of the case.