A Massachusetts man was sentenced Thursday to 12 ½ years in prison for possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl. Ariel Martinez, 32, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, was arrested on the charge two years ago as the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigated a suspected fatal drug overdose in Brunswick.

According to Brunswick Police Cmdr. Mark Waltz, police were called to a Pleasant Street home on Nov. 21, 2017, after a 27-year-old man overdosed. Investigators learned that the victim got the fentanyl from a Massachusetts dealer, according to United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank.

According to an affidavit by Brunswick Det. Jerod Verrill, also a special agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, police recovered two cell phones that investigators used to receive Facebook Messenger messages from a profile named “Alex Moet Rugger,” from Lawrence, Massachusettes. 

Verrill said he realized “Alex Moet Rugger” didn’t know the man the phone belonged to was dead. Verrill contacted him “in an effort to lure him to Maine with additional drugs and positively identify the drug supplier.”

Acting undercover, he placed an order for 20 grams of drugs with the dealer for delivery the next day in Brunswick.

Frank states that agents stopped a vehicle with Massachusetts plates when it pulled up to the designated spot.

Court documents state that Martinez was a passenger in the vehicle and admitted to having fentanyl in his shoe and pants. Drug agents seized about 19 grams of fentanyl from him.

A laboratory confirmed the drugs seized from Martinez were a mixture of a substance containing fentanyl. 

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine and is added to heroin to increase its potency.

In 2017, 278 deaths in Maine were attributed to synthetic opioid, mainly fentanyl, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That same year saw 360 deaths involving opioids, — a nearly 18-fold increase since 2012 — placing Maine among the top 10 states with the highest overdose deaths involving opioids in the U.S.

Martinez pleaded guilty to the charge of possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl as part of a plea agreement on Feb. 19. Last week, he was sentenced to 12 ½ years in federal prison and three years of supervised release for the charge.

“It’s nice that through the hard work of all the officers involved that a drug dealer that contributed to the death of an individual was able to be held accountable and hopefully a case like this will make it less likely that someone will deal drugs in the future,” said Waltz Monday.

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