News Release
For Immediate Release:
October 17, 2008
Contact: Special Agent Tony Pettigrew
Number: 617-557-2138

Two Men Sentenced To Federal Prison For Roles In Large-Scale Narcotics Trafficking Ring

OCT 17 -- 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, today announced that two men involved in a large-scale heroin and cocaine trafficking operation have been sentenced in Bridgeport federal court. Today, RAFAEL CACERES-BARRAZA, 30, a citizen of Guatemala last residing on Candlewood Lake Road in New Milford, was sentenced by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. On February 8, 2008, CACERES-BARRAZA pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and more than five kilograms of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Yesterday, October 16, JUAN TRINIDAD, age 32, last residing on Bostwick Place in New Milford, also was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. On February 8, 2008, TRINIDAD pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and more than five kilograms of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to commit bulk cash smuggling.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, in November 2006, the Drug Enforcement Administration initiated a court-authorized wiretap investigation on a telephone used by one or more of the defendants. Based on the investigation and the intercepted calls, on November 13, 2006, Connecticut DEA agents requested the Fort Lee, New Jersey police to effect a vehicle stop on a truck operated by TRINIDAD and CACERES, which was driven from a residence at 813 Candlewood Lake Road, New Milford, that morning. Fort Lee officers found approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine concealed in the truck. The DEA then requested that New Milford Police obtain a search warrant for 813 Candlewood Lake Road, which was executed later that day. At the residence, which had been shared by CACERES and Julio Flores-Ceron, also a citizen of Guatemala, police found more than 10 kilograms of cocaine, five kilograms of heroin and a substantial amount of narcotics packaging, indicating that a much larger quantity of drugs had previously been present at the premises.

This investigation stems from a major international investigation conducted by the DEA in the Eastern District of New York. According to information disclosed in previous court proceedings, federal authorities in New York conducted a long-term investigation into suspected heroin distribution by an organization headed by Hector Vidal Yepes-Casas. The New York investigation culminated in the arrest of 11 individuals, including Yepes, in New York and Colombia on March 28, 2007. New York DEA has estimated that the Yepes organization, one of the largest Colombian heroin trafficking organizations in the United States, was responsible for shipping more than 250 kilograms of heroin from Colombia to the United States. During the investigation, agents seized approximately $24 million of heroin, which includes the Connecticut seizures. The investigation revealed that the organization transported its narcotics to the United States primarily through Panama and Guatemala, and that the drugs were concealed in various ways, including inside packages of red kidney beans, inside the beads of beaded beach bags, inside trailer hitches that had been opened and resealed, and inside automotive drive shafts.

The Connecticut and New York investigations disclosed that CACERES, TRINIDAD and Flores were members of a team that supplied heroin not only to the Yepes organization, but also to cocaine and heroin traffickers as far to the south as Maryland.

The execution of the search warrant at 813 Candlewood Lake Road turned up dozens of the beaded beach bags and more than 30 of the trailer hitches that had been used by the Yepes organization to transport drugs from Colombia to the United States.

On February 8, 2008, Julio Flores-Ceron pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and more than five kilograms of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to commit bulk cash smuggling. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Hall on October 21.

The three defendants have been detained since November 17, 2006

This matter has been investigated by Drug Enforcement Administration in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. The Fort Lee (NJ) and New Milford Police Departments have assisted in the investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney H. Gordon Hall of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.