East Hartford Man Sentenced to 7 Years in Federal Prison for Shooting, Gun Trafficking
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that DANIEL VAZQUEZ, also known as “Chino,” 21, of East Hartford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 84 months of imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release, for his role in a gun trafficking ring and a shooting in 2016.
This matter stems from an investigation headed by the ATF and East Hartford Police Department into drug trafficking and related acts of violence by a group of individuals operating out of the Mayberry Village housing complex in East Hartford.
According to court documents and statements made in court, sometime in or before 2014, Vazquez and others were robbed at gunpoint while they were attempting to purchase marijuana that they intended to redistribute. On July 6, 2016, Vazquez saw the person who had robbed him driving a car at the intersection of Tolland Street and Moore Avenue in East Hartford and shot at him. Vazquez was arrested on that date, and a search of his residence revealed a Ruger LC93 9mm handgun, which he had used in the shooting, and a Taurus 9mm handgun.
The investigation revealed that Courtney Johnson had moved from East Hartford to Minot, North Dakota. In late June 2016, Lawrence Christie, an East Hartford resident who was staying with Johnson in Minot, contacted Vazquez and asked him to drive from Connecticut to North Dakota to assist Christie in purchasing firearms. Vazquez and Justin Gay, also from East Hartford, then drove to North Dakota where they stayed with Johnson. In Minot, Vazquez, Christie, Johnson, Gay and others, sometimes using counterfeit currency, purchased firearms from sellers who had advertised the guns for sale on a website. Vazquez, Christie and Gay then transported five firearms from North Dakota to Connecticut. Two of the five guns purchased in North Dakota were found in Vazquez’s residence on July 6, 2016.
To date, investigators have traced a total of nine firearms that were obtained in North Dakota and transported to Connecticut. Some of the guns have been used in shootings in the Hartford area. Investigators also purchased and seized quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana during the investigation.
Vazquez has been detained since his arrest on July 6, 2016. He previously pleaded guilty in state court to possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle and was sentenced to 18 months of incarceration. On November 13, 2018, Vazquez pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Johnson, Christie and Gay have pleaded guilty to firearm and drug offenses related to this scheme and await sentencing.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the ATF and East Hartford Police Department, with the assistance of the Connecticut Department of Correction and the Minot (N.D.) Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Stolfi Collins.