By Chris O’Brien
BU News Service
A Lowell man pleaded guilty to gun charges Wednesday after a multi-agency investigation identified him as one of 14 persons selling firearms and drugs in cities north of Boston throughout last winter.
Fernando DeOliveira, 23, waived his right to a jury trial in US District Court by pleading guilty to charges of dealing arms and possessing a firearm as an unlawful resident of the United States between November of 2018 and April 2019.
DeOliveira was arrested in April as part of a 7-month investigation into a criminal organization known as “Primeiro Comando da Massachusetts,” or PCM, according to a federal affidavit filed in court. The affidavit also mentioned that the group was allegedly trafficking cocaine and firearms in several cities north of Boston.
DeOliveira faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of his two charges. He is also “likely to be deported or removed,” said Judge Denise Casper at Wednesday’s hearing.
DeOliveira is originally from Brazil and had obtained a visa to enter the United States for six months, but knowingly overstayed his visa, according to U.S. prosecutor Timothy Moran. Both DeOliveira’s counsel and the government prosecution are recommending DeOliveira receive a lighter sentence as part of the plea agreement.
“The U.S. attorney and I discussed verbal sentencing guidelines,” said defense attorney John Amabile. “They will recommend at the low end, but there is no other agreement.”
The investigation involved several federal and local law enforcement departments and included “cooperating witnesses” who participated in gun and drug transactions with several suspects associated with the PCM group, including DeOliveira, according to an affidavit. The affidavit noted that the transactions were recorded and witnessed by officers.
DeOliveira first met with undercover officers in a Stop and Shop parking lot in Malden in November of 2018 and sold them a .32 caliber pistol with a removed serial number, along with three magazines, 43 rounds of ammunition and a holster, police said in the affidavit.
Prosecutors in this case also charged Fadwa Chimal, Mouad Nessassi and Jennifer Romero with firearm and drug trafficking-related charges.
Chimal pleaded guilty but was released pending her trial in January. Nessassi pleaded guilty to two of three charges. Romero was released on probation and has not yet entered a plea, according to court records.
DeOliveira’s sentencing will be held on December 18 following the completion of his pre-sentence report by the probation department.