News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2006

New Britain Gang Members Indicted on Federal Narcotics Charges

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 a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford has returned a 14-count Indictment charging six men, several of whom are alleged to be members of the Netas street gang, with various narcotics and firearm charges. The Indictment was returned on September 27, and was ordered unsealed today by United States Magistrate Judge Joan G. Margolis in New Haven.

The Indictment charges LUIS CIRINO, also known as “Gordo,” age 29, of 112 Dean Drive, New Britain, with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”), two counts of distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base, one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute powder cocaine, three counts of distribution of powder cocaine, and one count of felon in possession of two loaded semi-automatic handguns. According to court documents, CIRINO is the president of the local chapter of the Netas street gang.

If convicted of these charges, CIRINO faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life and a fine of up to $4 million.

CIRINO was arrested on September 19 and is currently detained in federal custody. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement officers with the New Britain Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration executed search warrants at some of the apartments he used as residences, including 106 Willow Street and 112 Dean Drive. As a result of the execution of those warrants, officers seized several semi-automatic handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and more than 100 grams of powder and crack cocaine.

The Indictment also charges ALBERTO HERNANDEZ, also known as “Chino,” age 28, of New Britain, with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, one count of distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base, one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute powder cocaine, and three counts of distribution of powder cocaine. If convicted of these charges, HERNANDEZ faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life and a fine of up to $4 million. HERNANDEZ surrendered to the federal authorities yesterday. Earlier today, HERNANDEZ was released after posting a $50,000 non-surety bond. He will also be electronically monitored by the U.S. Probation Office during his release.

The Indictment also charges LUIS LUCIANO, age 28, of 108 West Street, New Britain, and RAFAELITO SANTIAGO, age 29, of 8 Vega Street, New Britain, each with one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine and one count of distribution of powder cocaine. If convicted of either charge, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million. LUCIANO was arrested on September 20 and remains in federal custody. His detention hearing is scheduled for October 11 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Smith in Hartford. SANTIAGO was arrested on September 27 and is released on bond.

The Indictment also charges KENNY IRIZARRY, age 20, of 1311 Cottage Avenue, New York, New York, with one count of possession with intent to distribute of powder cocaine. If convicted, IRIZARRY faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million. IRIZARRY was arrested by New Britain Police on September 19 during a search of 111 Willow Street, which is the residence of CIRINO’s mother. He is currently detained.

Finally, the Indictment charges WILLIAM RAMES, also known as “Bliss,” age 24, with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base and two counts of distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base. If convicted, RAMES faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life and a fine of up to $4 million. RAMES has not yet been located and remains a fugitive from justice.

U.S. Attorney O’Connor stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter stems from the Department of Justice’s “Weed and Seed” initiative in New Britain. Weed and Seed is a two-pronged strategy that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in targeted neighborhoods across the country. The strategy incorporates law enforcement agencies and prosecutors who cooperate in “weeding out” criminal activity from the community and then “seeding” the community by bringing human services to the area that encompass prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization.

This case has been investigated by the New Britain Police Department and the Hartford Resident Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.