U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut
(203) 821-3700
June 16, 2015

More Than Two Dozen Charged After FBI Task Force Investigation into Hartford Drug and Gun Trafficking

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Hartford Police Chief James C. Rovella, today announced that 29 individuals have been charged with federal offenses stemming from the gang-related distribution of heroin and crack cocaine in Hartford’s South End.

According to allegations made in court, in September 2014, the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force initiated an investigation into narcotics distribution, firearms trafficking and acts of violence carried out by members and associates Los Solidos in Hartford’s South End. The investigation has included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of heroin, crack cocaine and firearms, and the execution of more than 15 searches. These law enforcement efforts have resulted in the seizure of 24 firearms, approximately $74,000, two kilograms of crack cocaine, two kilograms of powder cocaine, one kilogram of heroin, 7000 bags of packaged heroin, 10 pounds of marijuana and four vehicles.

This prosecution stems from Project Longevity, a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities. Through Project Longevity, community members and law enforcement directly engage with members of groups that are prone to commit violence. A critical component of the Project Longevity strategy is the “call-in,” a face-to-face meeting where Project Longevity partners engage group members and deliver a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it. Members of Los Solidos attended call-ins that were held in April 2014 and August 2014.

Last week, a grand jury in Hartford returned eight indictments charging 28 individuals. Twenty-four of the defendants were arrested yesterday, two defendants were already incarcerated, and two defendants are still being sought by law enforcement. One additional individual was charged by criminal complaint after being arrested during the course of yesterday’s operation.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will use the full weight of federal law to make our cities safer by identifying violent gangs and prosecuting members and associates involved in drug trafficking and related activity,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. This investigation removed two dozen firearms from the street. “I commend the work of the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, which is committed to investigating serious criminal behavior in Hartford and rooting out violent individuals from our communities. Project Longevity exists to give every member of a group participating in criminal behavior a new path to become a contributing member of society. This prosecution should send a clear message to those who choose to resist a lifestyle change that the path they’re currently taking may very well lead to a federal courtroom.”

“The distribution of narcotics allegedly undertaken by members and associates of the Los Solidos street gang has been seriously disrupted as a result of this successful long-term investigation by the Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “It is our hope that our continuing investigations will break the stronghold certain gangs believe they have over Hartford neighborhoods.”

“This operation, which embedded Hartford Police Department patrol officers and detectives with our federal partners for several months, is an example of our strong relationships and continued cooperation with all of our local, state and federal partners,” stated Hartford Police Chief Rovella. “We continue to support these efforts and relationships to cooperatively enhance a safer city.”

The following individuals are charged in an indictment with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute heroin:

MELVIN CASTRO, a.k.a. “Humacoa,” 22, of Hartford LUIS CASTRO, a.k.a. “Cano,” 43, of Hartford FRANCISCO SANCHEZ-REYES, a.k.a. “Chino,” 37, of Hartford HERNAN GONZALEZ, 26, of Hartford MANUEL LOZADO, a.k.a. “Mayo,” 25, of Hartford This indictment also charges MELVIN CASTRO with 12 counts and GONZALEZ and LOZADO each with one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, heroin. The indictment further charges MELVIN CASTRO with three counts of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon, and WILLIAM MARRERO, 22, of East Hartford, with one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. The following individuals are charged in a separate indictment: FELIX JIMENEZ, a.k.a. “P.R.,” 30, of Hartford ROGELIO ORTEGA, 45, of Manchester SANDRO RUIZ, a.k.a. “Domi” 41, of Hartford RICHARD CRUZ, a.k.a. “Gotti,” 25, of Windsor Locks.

JOANNA NEGRON, 36, of Hartford.

JIMENEZ and ORTEGA are charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack cocaine”). JIMENEZ is also charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of heroin, one count of use of telephone in the commission of a drug trafficking felony, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. CRUZ is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of use of telephone in the commission of a drug trafficking felony and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. RUIZ and NEGRON are each charged with one count of use of telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The following individuals are charged in an indictment with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base:

VINCENTE RIVERA, a.k.a. “Macho,” 35, of Hartford BASILIA GOMEZ, 30, of Hartford JORGE GOMEZ, a.k.a. “Joe,” 29, of Hartford PEDRO ROMAN, a.k.a. “Tony,” 38, of Hartford.

This indictment also charges RIVERA with 11 counts of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, cocaine base, and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. In addition, the indictment charges WILLIAM PEREZ, a.k.a. “Jay,” 30, of East Hartford, with one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon, and EDWARD BLAIR, 33, of Hartford, MORRIS LANIER, 23, of Hartford, and NAHKIA ROBERTS, 30, of Willimantic, each with one count of use of a telephone in the commission of a drug trafficking felony.

Another indictment charges EDUARDO ZAYAS, a.k.a. “Za,” 31, of East Hartford, and MICHAEL KELLEY, 34, of New Britain, with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base. ZAYAS is also charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes, and possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. KELLEY is also charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (two counts), possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and maintaining a drug-involved premises.

This indictment also charges SHAWN KARJOHN, 37, of Hartford, RICHARD JEWELL, 40, of Hartford and CHRISTOPHER ROSA, 32, of Hartford, with use of telephone in the commission of a drug trafficking felony. KARJOHN is also charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.

Charged in four separate indictments are:

EDGARDO TORRES, a.k.a. “Eggy,” 36, of East Hartford, with 14 counts of possessing with intent to distribute, and distribution, of heroin and crack cocaine.

JOSE SERRANO, 30, of Hartford, with one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

ERIC ORTIZ, a.k.a. “Nice,” 34, of Hartford, with four counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin.

MIGUEL DIAZ, a.k.a. “Smooth,” 35, of Wethersfield, with two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

CARLOS RIVERA, 24, of Hartford, was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon and possession with intent to distribute heroin and crack cocaine.

U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force. The FBI Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Squad, Major Crimes Unit, Shooting Task Force and South Conditions Unit are providing valuable assistance to the investigation, and the U.S. Marshals Service and Capitol Region Emergency Response Team (CREST) assisted with the arrests.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Gustafson and Gabriel J. Vidoni.

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