News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2006

North Franklin Man Sentenced On Federal Heroin Charge

 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, today announced that MICHAEL STOKES, age 46, of North Franklin, Connecticut, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford, to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.  On June 2, 2006, STOKES pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin.

 This matter stems from an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation dubbed “Operation SAPO,” which began in late 2004 and was spearheaded by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.  On August 10, 2005, a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford returned and 18-count indictment charging 23 individuals with various narcotics offenses, primarily related to the distribution of heroin.

 According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, beginning in the fall of 2004, the DEA began an investigation of Luis Camacho, a drug trafficker operating in Southbridge, Massachusetts.  Following several controlled purchases of narcotics, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, from Camacho, a wiretap investigation of Camacho began in late March 2005.  During the course of that wiretap, it was quickly learned that Camacho’s heroin supplier was Alfredo Aguilar of Willimantic.  A subsequent wiretap investigation of Aguilar revealed that he operated an extensive heroin trafficking operation involving several other Willimantic-area residents, and that Aguilar was supplied with approximately one-half of one kilogram of heroin on a monthly basis by Jose del los Santos Rubio Betancurth of Hartford and Juan Carlos Velez of New Britain, which Aguilar and others redistributed.

STOKES was intercepted over the wiretap on multiple occasions ordering redistribution quantities of heroin from Aguilar.

Searches at the conclusion of the four-month wiretap investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately 2 kilograms of cocaine, 350 grams of heroin, 400 grams of methamphetamine, two handguns and cash.

Camacho, Aguilar, Betancurth and Velez have pleaded guilty to various narcotics trafficking charges and each awaits sentencing.

 Willimantic is a Department of Justice recognized and funded Weed and Seed site.  Weed and Seed is a Department of Justice strategy that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods across the country.  Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in “weeding out” criminals who participate in violent crime and drug abuse, attempting to prevent their return to the targeted area.  “Seeding” brings human services to the area, encompassing prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization.

 This investigation was a collaborative effort of the Drug Enforcement Administration Hartford Resident Office, which included members of the Hartford, East Hartford, Southington, Manchester and West Hartford Police Departments, the Willimantic Police Department, the Connecticut State Police, Massachusetts State Police, the Southbridge, Massachusetts Police Department, the DEA Worcester, Massachusetts Resident Office, the State’s Attorney’s Office for the Judicial District of Windham and the United States Attorney’s Office.