States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|January 5, 2011||
JOINT LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that 17 individuals have been arrested and charged with various narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses related to the large-scale distribution of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine in Bridgeport, Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts.
“I want to recognize the dedication, commitment and excellence of the FBI Task Force, the Bridgeport Police, and all of the federal, state and local law enforcement officers who participated in the lengthy investigation of this matter including the significant arrests and seizures of the last 24 hours,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “Federal penalties for drug and gun trafficking are severe, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal partners will continue to work with local and state law enforcement to break up narcotics trafficking rings and vigorously prosecute their participants in order to improve the quality of life in the areas where they operate.”
The charges stem from a seven-month Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Bridgeport Safe Streets Task Force, which is composed of personnel from the FBI, the Bridgeport Police Department, the Norwalk Police Department and the Trumbull Police Department. The investigation focused on drug trafficking, firearm trafficking and gang activity in the Bridgeport area. The investigation was funded in significant part through the United States Attorney’s Office OCDETF initiatives, and the cases are being prosecuted by members of the United States Attorney’s Office Violent Crimes and Narcotics Unit.
According to court documents and statements made in court during the initial presentment of several of the defendants today in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, the investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps. Through the wiretaps, investigating officers identified two alleged drug trafficking organizations, one that operated out of Bridgeport and one that operated out of Bridgeport and Springfield, Massachusetts. Both organizations are alleged to have sold large quantities of narcotics, including heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, and to have trafficked firearms, during the course of the investigation.
On January 4, 2011, law enforcement officers arrested five individuals in the Hartford area. Four of these individuals have been charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. They are:
DAMONT GEE, a.k.a. “Monty,” 34, of Beachwood Avenue, Bridgeport;
RITCHENS and a second individual, LERONA BARNO-SWAIN, 34, of King Street, Hartford, also are charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).
If convicted of this charge, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10 million. The filing of a second offender notice under the federal statute would double these penalties.
Earlier today, law enforcement officers arrested 12 individuals in Fairfield County. Eleven of the individuals are charged by indictment with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and 28 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”). They are:
JOSEPH REYES, a.k.a. “Fat Joe” and “RJ,” 26, of Seaview Avenue, Bridgeport;
If convicted of this charge, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10 million. The filing of a second offender notice under the federal statute would double these penalties.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, REYES, DANIELS, NIEVES, RAMOS, ERNEST WILLIAMSON, JONATHAN WILLIAMSON, and WINSTON are charged with conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premise within 1000 feet of a school and a housing facility for the purpose of distributing one kilogram or more of heroin and 28 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”). If convicted of this charge, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, BOWLES is charged with making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of firearms. Specifically, she is charged with intending to deceive a licensed firearms dealer during the purchase of two firearms by representing that she was the transferee of those firearms when, in fact, she knew the firearms were going to be transferred to someone else. If convicted of this charge, BOWLES faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
PETER JOHNSON, 43, of Gregory Boulevard, Norwalk, is charged with use of a telephone to facilitate commission of a narcotics trafficking felony. If convicted of this charge, JOHNSON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of four years and a fine of up to $250,000.
During the course of the arrests of the 17 defendants, law enforcement officers seized approximately four kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of crack cocaine, a quantity of heroin, an SKS assault rifle, five handguns and more than $150,000 in cash.
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 FBI’s Bridgeport Safe Streets Task Force with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Connecticut State Police, and Bridgeport, Norwalk Stratford, Hartford and Stamford Police Departments.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tracy Dayton, Jonathan Freimann and Doug Morabito.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods