April 25 (UPI) -- The Department of Justice announced Wednesday the indictment of 45 people in connection with a fentanyl trafficking ring as part of an investigation spanning three states.
The investigation resulted in the seizure of 30 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, two firearms and more than $500,000 in cash as part of a trafficking operation that implicated dozes of people in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
"The quantities of fentanyl that were allegedly trafficked in this case are shocking," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. "We will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law and continue to take dangerous drugs -- and drug dealers -- off of our streets so that every American can be safe in their community."
Court documents show the investigation focused on a fentanyl trafficking ring led by brothers Sergio Martinez and Raulin Martinez out of Lawrence, Mass.
The brothers allegedly used a vast network of dispatchers and distributors to serve customers, while being aware most of the drugs were going to New Hampshire.
The Martinez brothers also allegedly employed people responsible for making sure distributors were consistently supplied with 200-gram bags of fentanyl and were returning drug proceeds made from the sales.
Authorities charged 32 individuals with participating in a conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl on April 4. Of those 32, 15 were arrested, seven were already incarcerated and two were located.
On April 18, 13 more people were charged in related indictments and by Tuesday 12 of those individuals were taken into custody.
If convicted most of the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life as well as a fine of up to $10 million.
"The Granite State is faced with a fentanyl crisis unlike ever before and [Drug Enforcement Agency's] top priority is combatting the opioid epidemic," said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Albert Angelucci. "DEA is committed to aggressively pursuing Drug Trafficking Organizations who are coming from out of state to distribute this poison to the citizens of New Hampshire in order to profit and destroy people's lives."