A 24-year-old Providence man has pleaded guilty to trafficking heroin and faces up to 20 years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office reported Thursday.
Regaldo’s guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, East Greenwich Police Chief Colonel Thomas E. Coyle, III, and Kevin L. Lane, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New England field division of the DEA.
Vorking Regaldo was arrested Sept. 29 after a confidential EG police informant told authorities that Regaldo was making regular deliveries of heroin to the Duke Street area late last summer, EG Det. Lieutenant Jay Fague recounted Thursday.
“He was making numerous deliveries of heroin to the Duke Street area, several times a week,” said Fague. “He drove a Volvo V70 station wagon with a certain plate and he would come down on certain days. We began to do surveillance.”
According to Fague, the surveillance lasted “several weeks.” He said EG brought in the federal Drug Enforcement Agency because of its additional resources. Det. David Black and Det. Sergeant John Chirnside worked with a DEA agent on the surveillance.
On that Thursday, Sept. 29, Fague said, they heard Regaldo was going to be making a delivery to an address on Duke Street.
“He was observed driving into a complex on Duke Street,” said Fague. “He got nervous and left, and was stopped by police.”
There was a woman in the car with Regaldo. She turned out to be his girlfriend and she was not charged. Regaldo gave police permission to search the vehicle and they found the heroin.
“There was a ‘hide’ in the vehicle, a secret compartment in the center console,” Fague said. “It was controlled by an electronic magnet.” Inside the compartment, they found 32 bags of heroin totalling 15 grams — “a substantial amount.”
Because of the amount of heroin in the arrest and because Regaldo had been convicted on another drug charge in Providence in February 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Providence took over the case, Fague said. His sentence of up to 20 years follows federal sentencing guidelines.
Fague said no one else was arrested in that September bust. “His customers scattered,” he said. “He was delivering very regularly to one customer in Duke Street. This was quite regular.”
Fague declined to give an address, but identified the location as “a condo complex” on Duke Street.
The Volvo he was driving was confiscated by EG police and is now the property of the town. Another car that was seized, a BMW in Cranston, will be sold and the proceeds of that will be split between the town and the federal government, Fague said. He said Regaldo was a car mechanic who bought cars, fixed them up and sold them.
"It was a joint investiation, very well done," he said. "It got a mid-level drug dealer off the streets."
Regaldo, who has been detained since his arrest, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29 by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith. Regaldo faces a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison to be followed by up to 3 years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Hebert.