16 Charged after FBI Task Force and Hartford Police Department Investigation into Hartford Street Gang
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Hartford Police Chief James C. Rovella, today announced the unsealing of a 31-count indictment charging 16 individuals with federal narcotics offenses related to the distribution of heroin and crack cocaine in Hartford. The indictment also charges four of the defendants with firearm and robbery offenses.
The indictment, which was returned by a grand jury in Hartford on February 23, 2017, and unsealed yesterday, stems from “Operation Stamp Out,” a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force and the Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division targeting gang violence and narcotics trafficking in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood, and related overdoses.
According to allegations made in court, the investigation specifically targeted criminal activity being committed by members and associates of the Orange Street Killas (OSK). OSK is a geographically-based street gang operating principally in the area of Orange, Cherry and Arbor Streets. The investigation followed a series of reports of shots fired in the area, and a homicide that was committed on Cherry Street in October 2015. The prosecution was built on court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of narcotics and physical and video surveillance, all of which revealed that Ruben Torres and certain OSK members acquired heroin and crack cocaine from other OSK members and then sold the narcotics on the streets of Hartford.
During the investigation, on October 8, 2016, at approximately 10:12 p.m., Hartford’s ShotSpotter system detected multiple shots fired in the area of 7-9 Cherry Street. Hartford Police responded and located a male victim in the backyard of 51 Orange Street. The victim, who was suffering from three gunshot wounds to his legs, was transported to the hospital and survived the shooting. The indictment charges four defendants with firearm and robbery offenses related to this shooting.
“Gang-related drug trafficking continues to plague our inner cities,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “A relatively small number of offenders are responsible for the vast amount of the gun violence that traumatizes our neighborhoods. These same offenders peddle the heroin that has caused the tragic spike in heroin overdose deaths in cities and towns throughout Connecticut. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners have a long-standing commitment to assist the Hartford Police in reducing violent crime and drug trafficking in our capital city. We thank the FBI and the HPD for their tremendous work supporting this prosecution.”
“It’s the continued dedication and commitment of agents and officers in this case that has led to the disruption of street gang activity in this Hartford neighborhood,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “This joint effort in this case, and many others, will lead to a safer community.”
Charged in the indictment are:
RUBEN TORRES, a.k.a. “Rube,” “Ru,” and “T,” 25, of Hartford
ANTWANE WILLIAMS-BEY, a.k.a. “Buck,” 26, of East Windsor
MICHAEL CHAPMAN, a.k.a. “Nice” and “Mizzo,” 25, of New Britain
CHARLES TURNER, a.k.a. “Rell” and “CJ,” 26, of Hartford
TAYRENCE WILLIS, a.k.a. “T” and “T-Franklin,” 24, of Hartford
TYRRYQ RODRIGUEZ, a.k.a. “Ty,” “Little Ty” and “Tye Bangs,” 19, of Hartford
ERIC SMITH, a.k.a. “Hood,” 29, of Hartford
ADRIAN CRUZ, a.k.a. “Ray,” 28, of Hartford
BRENDAN SALMON, a.k.a. “One Eye,” 23, of Hartford
NOEL MONTANEZ, 18, of Hartford
JHOVANY VALDES, 40, of East Windsor
WILLIE DEAS, a.k.a. “Debo” and “Flee,” 21, of Hartford
MARCUS GARY, 33, of South Windsor
YOLANDA LOZADA, a.k.a. “Sexy,” 38, of East Hartford
JAMAL JOHNSON, 29, of Hartford
BUELL FRENCH, 36, of Hartford
On February 10, 2017, investigators arrested TORRES, WILLIAMS-BEY, CHAPMAN, WILLIS, RODRIGUEZ, SMITH, SALMON, MONTANEZ and VALDES. On that date, a search of TORRES’ Hartford apartment lead to the seizure of approximately 260 bags of heroin, ammunition, a gun cleaning kit and a holster. Searches of WILLIAMS-BEY’s East Windsor residence and a relative’s Hartford residence revealed approximately 900 bags of heroin and crack cocaine. Agents seized more than 300 grams of heroin and three firearms, one of which was stolen, at VALDES' East Windsor residence, and a firearm and crack cocaine at CHAPMAN’s residence.
TURNER was arrested on February 21, and SALMON and LOZADA were arrested on March 1.
CRUZ has been in custody since July 31, 2016, and DEAS has been in custody since October 28, 2016. Both were originally arrested on state charges.
GARY and JOHNSON have not been arrested are being sought.
The indictment charges each of the defendants with conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, heroin and cocaine base (“crack”). If convicted of this charge, based on the type and quantity of narcotics charged, TORRES, WILLIAMS-BEY, CHAPMAN, and TURNER face a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; VALDES, SMITH, CRUZ, MONTANEZ, LOZADA and GARY face a minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years, and WILLIS, RODRIGUEZ, SALMON, DEAS, JOHNSON and FRENCH face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
TORRES, WILLIAMS-BEY, CHAPMAN, TURNER, SMITH, CRUZ, SALMON, VALDES, DEAS and JOHNSON also are charged with one or more counts of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, various quantities of heroin and/or crack cocaine.
TORRES, DEAS, WILLIS and RODRIGUEZ are charged with interference with commerce by robbery, and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery; TORRES is charged with use of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and TORRES, DEAS and RODRIGUEZ are charged with conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and a drug trafficking crime. These charges relate to the October 8, 2016 shooting in the vicinity of 7-9 Cherry Street. DEAS also is charged with an additional count of interference with commerce by robbery, which relates to an attempted robbery that occurred on October 26, 2016.
Finally, the indictment charges CHAPMAN and VALDES each with one count of being felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and VALDES with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
U.S. Attorney Daly 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 Task Force and the Hartford Police Department. The Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division and Shooting Task Force have provided valuable assistance to the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Leaming.