States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|September 23, 2010||
THIRTY-FIVE CHARGED AS A RESULT OF FEDERAL TASK FORCE INVESTIGATION INTO HARTFORD GANG, DRUG ACTIVITY
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that 35 individuals have been charged with various federal narcotics and firearms violations stemming from a 15-month joint law enforcement investigation dubbed “Operation Northern Strike.” The investigation, which targeted alleged members and associates of geographically based street gangs operating in Hartford’s North End, is being conducted by the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Gang Task Force – which includes members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Connecticut State Police, Hartford Police Department and Bloomfield Police Department – in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps on multiple telephones, controlled purchases of narcotics and physical surveillance.
On September 15, 2010, a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford returned a 56-count superseding indictment charging 33 individuals with various federal drug trafficking offenses related to distribution of crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana in the Hartford area. Two of the defendants named in the superseding indictment are charged with federal firearms violations. Two additional defendants have been charged separately with federal firearms violations as a result of the investigation. Several of the defendants have been charged previously and arrested during the past three months, and the investigation culminated earlier this week when Task Force members conducting a coordinated operation arrested 16 individuals. Four defendants are being sought by law enforcement.
“Federal law enforcement is committed to working with our state and local counterparts to target and disrupt drug trafficking and gang activity in our cities,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I want to commend the agents and officers from the FBI, DEA, Connecticut State Police and the Hartford and Bloomfield Police Departments whose cooperative efforts are helping to improve the quality of life of Hartford’s residents.”
The 33 individuals charged in various counts of the superseding indictment are:
JOSEPH SMITH, a.k.a. “Nitty,” 28, of Edgewood Street, Hartford
SHANE HENRIQUES, a.k.a. “Banks,” 23, of Kane Street, West Hartford
(*BAISDEN, GARDNER, MACK and BARNO are currently being sought.)
Two additional individuals, HAROLD COOK, a.k.a. “Shai Lee Wilson,” “Oink” and “General,” 33, of Enfield Street, Hartford, and DAVID PRADO, a.k.a. “Chino,” 31, of New Park Avenue, Hartford, have been arrested as a result of the investigation. Both defendants are charged in a separate, three-count indictment with possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon, possession of an unregistered sawed-off shot gun and conspiracy to possess and unregistered sawed-off shot gun. The indictment was returned on August 10, 2010.
U.S. Attorney Fein noted that not all of the defendants charged are alleged to be gang members or associates.
If convicted, a number of the defendants face a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and fines of up to $4,000,000. Due to prior narcotics trafficking convictions, a number of defendants face increased penalties.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Gang Task Force – which includes representatives of the FBI, Connecticut State Police, Hartford Police Department and Bloomfield Police Department – and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian P. Leaming and Geoffrey M. Stone.
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