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United States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
Press Release

July 13, 2011


The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut today announced that ARMANDO SOTO, also known as “Cuba,” 63, of Main Street, Hartford, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to 120 months of imprisonment, followed by 15 years of supervised release, for distributing crack cocaine in Hartford.

This matter stems from “Operation Northern Strike,” a 15-month joint law enforcement investigation targeting alleged members and associates of geographically-based street gangs engaging in criminal activity in Hartford’s Upper Albany and Northeast neighborhoods.   The investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps on multiple telephones, controlled purchases of narcotics and physical surveillance.  As a result of the investigation, 35 individuals were charged with various federal drug and firearms violations.

According to court documents and statements made in court, beginning in the summer of 2009, investigators coordinated controlled purchases of narcotics from individuals associated with “The Ave,” a street gang whose territory included significant portions of Albany Avenue and adjacent neighborhoods in Hartford.  One of the initial targets of the narcotics investigation was Joseph Smith, also known as “Nitty.”  The investigation revealed that SOTO regularly purchased from Smith multi-gram quantities of crack cocaine for both personal use and for distribution to others.  SOTO and Smith were intercepted over a wiretap on several occasions coordinating narcotics transactions.

Over an approximately two-month period in the spring of 2010, SOTO acquired at least 400 grams of crack cocaine from Smith.

On March 16, 2011, SOTO pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).

On June 29, 2011, Smith pleaded guilty to the same charge.  He awaits sentencing.

SOTO has been detained since his arrest on September 21, 2010.

In 1988, SOTO was convicted in Connecticut Superior Court of conspiracy to commit murder and murder and subsequently served more than 17 years in state prison for those offenses.

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 and Hartford Police Department – and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian P. Leaming and Geoffrey M. Stone.




Tom Carson
(203) 821-3722





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