States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|June 23, 2010||
BRIDGEPORT DRUG TRAFFICKER SENTENCED TO 19 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOEL SOTO, also known as “Joe Crack,” 28, formerly of Cleveland Avenue, Bridgeport, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport to 228 months of imprisonment, followed by eight years of supervised release, for his active involvement in a Bridgeport-based narcotics trafficking ring.
This matter stems from “Operation G-Force,” a joint law enforcement investigation into Bridgeport-area narcotics trafficking headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force. The year-long investigation, which led to the federal prosecution of 46 individuals, included a seven-month court-authorized wiretap; controlled purchases of cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin; search and seizure warrants, and physical surveillance.
On October 1, 2009, a jury in Bridgeport found SOTO guilty of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).
According to court documents, statements made in court and the evidence presented during the trial, from approximately January 2002 to February 2009, George Sanchez, also known as “G,” headed a large-scale cocaine and crack cocaine distribution ring operating in Bridgeport. Using the U.S. Mail, DHL, and other shipping services, Sanchez had, on average, two kilograms of cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico to various residences in Bridgeport each week. The cocaine was wrapped and secreted inside electronic devices such as VCRs, clothing, and other items. Once the packages were received in Bridgeport, Sanchez and his associates would process some of the cocaine into crack cocaine, and package the cocaine and crack cocaine for distribution to other narcotics traffickers in the Bridgeport area. Evidence collected during the course of the investigation included two kilograms of cocaine, which were seized in Puerto Rico, destined for an address in Bridgeport used frequently by Sanchez and his associates for the delivery of cocaine.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that SOTO was actively involved in distributing large quantities of cocaine and crack cocaine with Sanchez. At Sanchez’s direction, SOTO would receive kilogram-sized shipments of cocaine, convert the powder cocaine into crack cocaine, and package narcotics for wholesale distribution. Sanchez also provided large amounts of cash to SOTO so he could obtain kilograms of cocaine for the Sanchez drug ring from various suppliers. In addition, SOTO sold wholesale quantities of cocaine and crack cocaine to other drug dealers.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base. On May 26, 2010, Judge Hall sentenced SANCHEZ to 330 months of imprisonment, followed by 10 years of supervised release.
This matter was investigated by members of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, which is composed of federal agents and state and local officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force, and the Bridgeport, Stamford, Stratford, Fairfield, Trumbull and Norwalk Police Departments. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hal Chen and Dave Vatti.
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