Lawrence man sentenced to 22-year term in cocaine case

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    Lawrence man sentenced to 22-year term in cocaine case

    A Lawrence man was sentenced yesterday to more than 22 years in federal prison for conspiring to sell more than $1 million in street worth of cocaine throughout New England.

    According to prosecutors, Portorreal ran a lucrative, organized drug ring that dominated the area.

    He supervised 10 couriers, some of whom made cross-country trips to pick up cocaine. Others worked to distribute the drug across New England.

    During the course of the operation, for at least two years, couriers would pick up as much as 6 kilograms of cocaine at a time, according to prosecutors.

    In all, Portorreal was convicted of conspiring to distribute approximately 46 kilograms of cocaine, exceeding $1 million in street worth, prosecutors said.

    Michael K. Loucks, acting US attorney for the district of Massachusetts, said in a statement, “This sentence should be a lesson for those who would consider leading a cocaine trafficking ring in Massachusetts.’’

    US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock also found that Portorreal lied under oath during his sentencing hearing, when he denied directing couriers.

    The case was investigated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Cross Border Initiative Task Force, made up of federal agents, State Police, and local police from Lawrence and New Hampshire.

    Jose Portorreal, 31, must also serve five years of supervised probation after his release. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine in November 2008.

    By Milton J. Valencia
    Globe Staff / September 15, 2009

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