Moises Rodriguez on Monday admitted his role in overseeing a clandestine heroin mill inside a modest split-level house in Bucks County, and a county judge berated him for a “torrent of poison [he] unleashed into the community.”
But Judge Brian T. McGuffin accepted the unusually light sentence recommended by prosecutors and credited Rodriguez with time served, allowing him to walk out of a Doylestown courtroom with seven years’ probation.
“I recognize that I have gone substantially below the sentencing guidelines on this case,” McGuffin said. “While I’m not thrilled with this outcome, I understand why it had to occur.”
Prosecutors, led by Deputy District Attorney Christopher Rees, said Rodriguez cooperated with their investigation immediately upon his arrest during a dramatic late-night raid on the Warminster heroin operation in December 2018. He did so, prosecutors said, despite threats against him and his family.
Rodriguez’s help, Rees said, led to eight codefendants pleading guilty. Without it, the prosecutor added Monday, the county would have had to contend with a long, intricate criminal proceeding.
“What we’re looking at right now is just about 50 total years of imprisonment for all involved,” Rees said. “That’s a significant amount of time, and if we did not have the responsibility that has been accepted by this defendant, who has set himself profoundly apart from his codefendants, we would not be able to guarantee that time.”
Rodriguez, 46, of Paterson, N.J., pleaded guilty to racketeering, drug manufacturing, and conspiracy charges. For those offenses, all felonies, he could have faced several years in state prison. Instead, McGuffin sentenced him to nine to 23 months, crediting him for the time he spent in county jail between his arrest and release in September after making bail.
Through an interpreter, Rodriguez said he was “profoundly sorry” for the role that he played in the drug ring.
“I’m an adult. I know I participated, but I let myself be influenced,” he said. “And I feel really bad for what happened, and I want to apologize to my family and to society for the harm I caused.”
Still, McGuffin was clear in his message to Rodriguez.
“Don’t do this again, Mr. Rodriguez,” McGuffin said. “Or you will be warehoused in a state correctional facility.”
Prosecutors have said Rodriguez was one of two leaders of the heroin ring, hidden inside a home on Cheryl Drive in Warminster. The other, Dariel Vasquez, is serving a five-to-10-year sentence in state prison.
The operation began in April 2018, and distributed the narcotic as far as Pittsburgh, according to investigators.
In the home’s basement, police found a sophisticated assembly line for preparing and packaging heroin. Investigators estimate the operation earned millions each week and paid its 11 members weekly salaries between $1,000 and $1,500.
All but two of the members arrested have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to state prison. Bench warrants have been issued for the others, Jose Luis-Morales, 36, and Luis Torres, 32.
Torres is on the run after cutting off the GPS monitor given to him by the county’s probation and parole department. Luis-Morales, who was living in the country illegally, was deported to the Dominican Republic shortly after he posted bail.