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Press Release

Drug Courier Sentenced to 37 Months in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ARMANDO VARELA-PLAZA, 41, a citizen of Mexico last residing in Queens, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 37 months of imprisonment for his role in a drug trafficking ring.

According to court documents and statements made in court, this matter stems from a DEA New Haven Task Force and Waterbury Police Department-led investigation into drug trafficking in and around the city of Waterbury.  The investigation, which included court-authorized wiretaps on multiple phones, physical surveillance, controlled purchases of narcotics, and motor vehicle stops that resulted in the seizure of drugs and cash proceeds, revealed that Jose Duprey, also known as “Red” and “Colorado,” trafficked kilogram-quantities of cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.  Duprey used his place of employment to supply narcotics to other drug distributors, and he used his girlfriend’s business, located on Straits Turnpike in Middlebury, to store narcotics and other items.

Varela-Plaza was a courier for Duprey’s drug supplier.  On February 23, 2022, Varela-Plaza called Duprey and arranged to pick up and transport a large quantity of cash proceeds from Duprey.  Later that day, after investigators observed Varela-Plaza meeting with Duprey, they stopped Varela-Plaza’s car and seized $88,000 in cash.

Varela-Plaza, Duprey, and 12 other individuals identified during this investigation were arrested on May 25, 2022.   On that date, a search of Duprey’s Waterbury residence and his Middlebury stash location revealed approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of heroin, two kilograms of fentanyl, and more than $107,000 in cash.

Varela-Plaza has been detained since his arrest.  On April 25, 2023, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Varela-Plaza faces immigration proceedings when he completes his prison term.

Duprey has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

This investigation has been conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration New Haven Task Force and the Waterbury Police Department, with the assistance of DEA offices in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Connecticut State Police; Connecticut Department of Correction; Connecticut State Parole; and the Naugatuck, Ansonia, West Haven, Meriden and East Haven Police Departments.

U.S. Attorney Avery thanked the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office for its cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of this matter.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brendan J. Keefe and Nathaniel J. Gentile through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Updated July 25, 2023

Asset Forfeiture
Drug Trafficking