News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2007

Bridgeport Man Sentenced to 77 Months in
Federal Prison for Role in Cocaine and Crack Distribution Ring

AUG 14 -- 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 MICHAEL HARDING, age 32, of Karen Court, Bridgeport, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 77 months of imprisonment, followed by six years of supervised release. On February 2, 2007, HARDING pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, a quantity of cocaine.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, beginning in mid-2005, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force initiated an investigation into suspected distribution of cocaine in the Bridgeport area by Luis Robles and his associates. The investigation established that the ring primarily operated out of East End Auto, an auto shop owned by Robles located at 1357 Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport. Robles obtained cocaine from a source of supply located in the New York metropolitan area. Typically, the cocaine was transported by automobile to the Bridgeport area to Robles or one of his associates, and then redistributed in and around Bridgeport to other dealers, including HARDING.

The investigation employed court-authorized wiretaps, court-authorized audio and video surveillance and several controlled purchases of cocaine.

In April 2006, the DEA HIDTA Task Force members arrested HARDING, Robles, and several other individuals involved in this narcotics trafficking ring. In connection with the arrests, Task Force members conducted searches at 11 locations in Bridgeport, Derby and Naugatuck, Connecticut, and seized more than 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, more than 500 grams of crack, one loaded semi-automatic handgun that was found in a closet in Robles’ residence, one bulletproof vest, six automobiles, and more than $125,000 in United States currency.

On February 2, 2007, Robles pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine. In pleading guilty, Robles also admitted that he attempted to obstruct justice by threatening witnesses involved in this investigation. On May 3, Judge Underhill sentenced Robles to 188 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force. Members of the Ansonia, Bridgeport, Derby, Easton, Greenwich, New Canaan, Newtown, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford and West Haven Police Departments participated in the investigation.