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Providence man sentenced to serve 5 years in state prison on firearms and drug charges

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Providence man was sentenced on February 26, 2021 in Providence County Superior Court to serve 5 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to felony charges. The charges stem from his arrest in 2020 by the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force while in possession of cocaine, fentanyl, and an illegal firearm.

Chavez Champagne (age 39), pleaded nolo contendere to one count of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, two counts of conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver cocaine, and one count of carrying a pistol without a license.

At a hearing before Superior Court Justice Joseph A. Montalbano, the court sentenced Champagne to 10 years at the ACI with 5 years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.

"This case is yet another example of how when it comes to drug trafficking, firearms are 'tools of the trade.' Nearly every time you find a significant drug dealer, you'll find a gun in their possession, or close by," said Attorney General Neronha. "It is these criminals who not only deal illegal substances like fentanyl that far too often kill the Rhode Islanders who use them, but who also drive gun violence on our streets. That's why we are focusing our prosecutorial efforts on cases like this one, along with our law enforcement partners, including the Rhode Island State Police."

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on September 22, 2020, Champagne was arrested by the RISP following the execution of a warrant at his home in Providence, where troopers found cocaine, fentanyl, and an illegal firearm.

On that day, the RISP seized approximately 60 grams of cocaine and 13 grams of fentanyl in a bag carried by Champagne. Troopers also seized an unlicensed .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver that Champagne was carrying at the time of his arrest.

"The deadly combination of illegal and deadly narcotics with a firearm pose a significant public safety risk to all Rhode Islanders and the successful investigation, prosecution and prison sentence of this case by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Rhode Island Office of Attorney General is a strong message that these types of violent crimes will not be tolerated" said Rhode Island State Police Colonel James M. Manni.

The State Police HIDTA Task Force is managed by the Rhode Island State Police and has investigators assigned from the Providence, Pawtucket, West Warwick, North Providence, Lincoln, and Middletown Police Departments.

The case was prosecuted in the Superior Court by Special Assistant Attorney General Alison Bittl. The police investigation was led by Detectives Conor O'Donnell and Tom Zincone of the RISP HIDTA Task Force.