PROVIDENCE — A man arrested in October 2020 in an investigation into the trafficking of drugs and firearms in four cities, including Warwick, pleaded guilty today to federal cocaine trafficking charges.
Michael Wilkerson, 38, of Woonsocket, was one of 18 apprehended as a result of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force Project Safe Neighborhoods’ “Operation River Fork,” a ten-month investigation started in Woonsocket then quickly expanded into Providence, Cranston, and Warwick, according to United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
The operation led to the identification of three drug and/or firearms trafficking conspiracies and eight individuals who were independently involved in the trafficking of drugs and/or firearms. During the investigation, FBI Task Force agents witnessed multiple controlled sales of drugs and firearms, including drug sales by Wilkerson, and agents seized five loaded firearms and more than a kilo of cocaine, according to Cunha’s office.
Wilkerson, who has been detained since his arrest on Oct. 7, 2020, pleaded guilty on Monday to distribution of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Wilkerson admitted to a federal judge that over a three-month period beginning in June 2020, he sold nearly 93 grams of cocaine.
On the day of his arrest in October 2020, members of the FBI Task Force seized nearly 375 grams of cocaine and $78,212 in cash during a court-authorized search of his residence; those funds will be forfeited as part of his sentence.
Wilkerson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13, 2023. The defendant’s sentences will be determined by a federal district judge after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stacey Erickson and Christine D. Lowell.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
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