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NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Court documents obtained by 12 News reveal new details about a so-called “stash house” in North Providence where a 43-year-old woman was found dead in April.
As early as January, law enforcement started looking into two suspects they believed to be distributing or selling drugs in the Providence area and in Massachusetts, according to the court documents.
Investigators learned Noel Ignacio Moronta, 41, and Nelson Reyes, 38, had access to several residences they used as “stash houses” for drugs and money. A police affidavit says the use of such houses can “increase the likelihood that narcotics dealers will avoid detection and apprehension by law enforcement.”
An informant told police they had firsthand knowledge of at least one of those houses on Metcalf Avenue in North Providence. Court documents say the informant helped make two controlled purchases of fentanyl in February and April.
After the second buy, the informant told police she learned Moronta’s sister was possibly dead inside the Metcalf Avenue home, adding that she believed Reyes and Moronta would attempt to try to move all the contraband inside it.
This, according to court documents, “prompted emergency surveillance” where detectives “observed an uncharacteristic amount of activity coming from the residence.”
The R.I. State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force then issued search warrants for several properties and cars in early April, noting they had probable cause to believe that fentanyl was being sold or stored by Moronta and Reyes. Warrants were also requested to search for evidence related to “the suspicious death of a Hispanic female.”
Police found a woman lying unconscious on the second floor when they searched the home on April 4. A North Providence Police Department dispatch log obtained by 12 News showed a rescue was notified about a possible overdose there that same day.
The woman has not been formally identified. A Rhode Island Department of Health spokesperson told 12 News the cause of death is still pending.
Documents show police that day also observed suspected narcotics and materials used to mix them “in plain view” on the third floor of the Metcalf Avenue home. A search warrant inventory says police found more than 870 grams of heroin, 19 grams of fentanyl, multiple kilogram presses, digital scales, and drug-packaging materials.
Search warrants show homes in Providence and Johnston were also searched, where more drugs, paraphernalia, jewelry and almost $83,000 in cash were located.
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Another search of a pickup truck used by Reyes yielded a handgun with two 13-round magazines, court documents revealed.
Moronta, Reyes and a third suspect, Marien Solano, were charged with failure to report a death with the intention to conceal a crime and possession with intent to deliver fentanyl and heroin. They were arraigned last month and ordered held without bail. Solano was later released on surety bond, with the condition that she surrender her passport.
All three suspects are due back in court in June.
A police affidavit notes that Moronta has a criminal record with several narcotics-related offenses in Boston, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Lawrence, Lowell, and Middleton.
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