News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2006

Danbury Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Cocaine and Firearms Charges

MAR 9 -- June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and Kevin J. O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that RAFAEL ALMONTE, age 32, of Danbury, Connecticut, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, on February 28, 2005, ALMONTE was arrested in Danbury by Danbury Police officers after ALMONTE led officers on a car chase and crashed into a concrete wall.  After ALMONTE was given medical attention, officers recovered in and around the car more than 40 grams of cocaine, a narcotics scale, a Glock semi-automatic handgun, a Glock magazine, and ammunition.  Based on their investigation and interview of ALMONTE’s car passenger, the officers determined that ALMONTE had crashed because he was driving at a high rate of speed while trying to simultaneously dispose of the firearm.

ALMONTE’s arrest stemmed from a federal investigation into a large-scale cocaine and crack cocaine distribution ring operating in the Danbury area.  As part of the investigation, law enforcement officers conducted searches of several residences in Connecticut and New York and recovered cocaine, drug-packaging materials, narcotics paraphernalia, and United States currency.  To date, more than 20 individuals in Danbury and New York City have been charged as a result of the investigation.

Judge Underhill has scheduled sentencing for June 8, 2006, at which time ALMONTE faces a mandatory-minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years, a maximum term of life imprisonment, and a fine of up to $4,000,000.

This matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Danbury Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Harold H. Chen and Alina P. Reynolds.