Citizen of the Dominican Republic Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison for Role in Heroin Trafficking Ring
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MODESTO BARETT-MEDINA, 49, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 42 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a heroin trafficking ring.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on October 21, 2016, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama conducted a motor vehicle stop of a car hauler that was carrying a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu. A search of the Malibu, which was registered to Onel Arana-Gervacio, revealed that it contained a hidden compartment (“trap”), which is commonly used to conceal and transport illegal contraband, including narcotics, firearms and currency. Law enforcement officials obtained court authorization to install tracking devices on the vehicle and, between October 2016 and January 2017, HSI agents observed it at various locations in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
On January 17, 2017, agents located the vehicle at 1091 Maple Avenue in Hartford. On January 20, surveillance officers observed activity on another vehicle located at the Maple Avenue residence consistent with manipulating a mechanical hidden compartment. Officers then observed Arana placing two duffel bags into that second vehicle and then driving off in the vehicle with BARETT. At approximately 8:30 p.m., a Hartford Police cruiser pulled the car over. The vehicle also contained a hidden trap, but a search revealed no contraband.
A subsequent search of 1091 Maple Avenue revealed more than six kilograms of heroin, approximately 500 grams of cocaine and a “finger press,” which is used to process bulk quantities of heroin into 10-gram-bags known as “fingers.” Agents also seized drug distribution materials, including sifters, grinders, scales, vacuum sealers and kilo wrappers, which were coated in heroin residue and field-tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.
Agents then searched the Malibu, which was located in the garage of 1091 Maple Avenue, and recovered approximately $260,000 in cash from inside the trap.
Laboratory testing of the seized heroin revealed that some of it contained fentanyl.
BARETT has been detained since his arrest on January 20, 2017. On September 8, 2017, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, heroin.
BARETT faces immigration proceedings when he completes his prison term.
Arana, who pleaded guilty to related charges, awaits sentencing.
This matter has been investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Hartford Police Department and the Connecticut State Police, with the assistance of the Baldwin County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Gustafson and David T. Huang.