New London Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Crack Distribution, Illegal Gun Possession
OCT 07 -- Kevin L. Lane, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JAMES BOWERS, 22, of New London, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven to 120 months of imprisonment, followed by eight years of supervised release. On June 25, 2007, BOWERS pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”), and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
According to documents filed with the Court, in December 2005 and January 2006, an individual cooperating with law enforcement made controlled purchases of crack cocaine from BOWERS on four separate occasions. On March 12, 2006, New London Police officers who were responding to a citizen’s complaint about open drug sales encountered BOWERS on Mountain Avenue. BOWERS consented to a search and officers found a quantity of crack cocaine secreted on his person.
As to the firearms charge, on May 11, 2005, New London Police stopped a vehicle in which a driver and passenger, who was later identified as BOWERS, were not wearing seat belts. Based on previous encounters with law enforcement, BOWERS was known to police as a member of a local gang that regularly engaged in drug trafficking activities and were known to possess weapons. Upon questioning by the officer, BOWERS denied possession of any drugs or weapons, and agreed to a search of his person. While searching BOWERS, the officer detected the butt of a handgun in the waistband area of BOWERS’ pants. The weapon was retrieved and proved to be a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, which was loaded with four hollow-point rounds.
Prior to May 11, 2005, BOWERS had been convicted of felony offenses, including 2003 convictions for possession of narcotics, and assault in the first degree.
It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.
Today, Judge Kravitz sentenced BOWERS to 120 months of imprisonment and eight years of supervised release on the crack cocaine conviction, and 92 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Judge Kravitz ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
On May 11, 2005, BOWERS was arrested on state charges. The case subsequently was adopted by federal authorities for prosecution. BOWERS has been detained in federal custody since July 7, 2006.
This prosecution is part of an ongoing federal, state and local law enforcement effort to quell violence fueled by the drug trade in southeastern Connecticut. On December 1, 2005, Deshawn Stewart was killed in a hit and run in retaliation for a gunpoint robbery of two individuals in New London in which he took part. Following Stewart’s death, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives intensified its relationship with the New London and Norwich Police Departments in order to investigate narcotics and firearms trafficking in the area, and target habitual offenders and individuals with violent histories for federal prosecution. To date, more than 30 individuals have been charged with federal crimes as a result of this joint investigative effort. Several additional individuals have been prosecuted by the New London States Attorney’s Office. The effort, which has expanded to include several additional police departments and the Connecticut State Police, also has removed more than two dozen illegal firearms from the streets.
This law enforcement effort has been investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the New London Police Department, the Norwich Police Department, the City of Groton Police Department, the Town of Groton Police Department, the Waterford Police Department, the Stonington Police Department, the Willimantic Police Department and the Connecticut State Police.