Massachusetts Men Who Sold Fentanyl to Veterans Struggling with Substance Abuse, PTSD, Sentenced

Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford. Facebook

Two Massachusetts men who pleaded guilty in July to planning to sell fentanyl to veterans being treated for substance abuse at a Boston-area VA Medical Center, have been sentenced to prison.

The state's U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday that Deiby Bladimil Casado Ruiz, 30, was sentenced on Nov. 1, 2023 by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Pedro Antonio Sanchez Bernabel, 31, was sentenced on Nov. 6, 2023 by Judge Talwani to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

On July 21, 2023, both Casado Ruiz and Bernabel pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and one count of distribution of fentanyl.

Between July 27, 2022 and November 2022, Bernabel and Casado Ruiz conspired to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl. Specifically, the defendants sold fentanyl to individuals at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, including one veteran who was seeking treatment at the Medical Center for a substance use disorder.

Before the plea deal, both men were facing mandatory minimum sentences of 5 to 40 years for conspiring to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl.

Fentanyl (For representational purpose only) Twitter

At the time of their arrest, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said what they were accused of doing was "absolutely appalling."

"We believe they targeted veterans who have valiantly defended our country's freedoms and are now seeking treatment for their substance abuse disorder, and supplied them with fentanyl, a deadly narcotic 50-100 times stronger than morphine," he said.

As pointed out by, People with PTSD are more prone to violent outbursts and panic attacks, which can be difficult for family and friends to witness. Feelings of guilt over these outbursts can drive those with PTSD to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

Fentanyl has become the leading driver of the opioid crisis across the U.S. and small amounts can lead to overdose deaths.