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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

FBI New Haven Task Force Investigation Results in Narcotics Charges against 25 Individuals

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Brian C. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes today announced that a grand jury in New Haven returned a 15-count indictment yesterday charging 25 individuals with federal narcotics offenses related to the distribution of crack cocaine, cocaine and heroin in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

This matter stems from an investigation headed by the FBI’s New Haven Safe Streets/Gang Task Force and New Haven Police Department that targeted drug trafficking and related acts of violence by members, former members and associates of the “Island Brothers” street gang in New Haven.  The investigation, which included court-authorized wiretaps and controlled purchases of narcotics, also revealed that the drug trafficking organization had established a base of operation in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  The investigation subsequently identified a second drug trafficking network that involved the large-scale distribution of heroin.

Charged in the indictment are:

TOMMY JULIUS, a.k.a. “General” and “J,” 36, of New Haven
CARL MERRITT, a.k.a. “C,” 39, of New Haven
FRANK CARR, a.k.a. “FL,” 52, of Hamden
BRIAN K. BACKMAN, a.k.a. “B,” “NYB” and “New York B,” 54, of New Haven
ANDERSON ATKINSON, a.k.a. “Barry,” 58, of Hamden
BRYANT WILLIAMS, 44, of New Haven
JEFFREY BRAZIER, 49, of Hamden
ERIC BURRUSS, a.k.a. “E,” 40, of New Haven
MERVIN BRANDY, 52, of Hamden
PRISHONNA TURNER, a.k.a. “Nonnie,” 23, of Hartford
SHARMAINE CROSLEY, a.k.a. “Shar,” 35, of New Haven
JESSENIA ROMAN, a.k.a. “Red,” 32, of New Haven
THEODORE SMITH, a.k.a. “Ted,” 36, of New Haven
WANDA CARTER, a.k.a. “WaWa,” 40, of Hamden
GERARD SENIOR, 20, of New Haven
SHAVAR BELLAMY, a.k.a. “Lil B,” “LB” and “Little Black,” 33, of New Haven
MATTHEW MOORE, a.k.a. “Matt,” 44, of Fitchburg, Mass.
SHAUN ARMSTRONG, 39, of Fitchburg, Mass.
JAMAINE JACKSON, a.k.a. “Jack,” 45, of Bridgeport
MAKENE JACOBS, a.k.a. “Mac” and “Bridgeport,” 43, of West Haven
TYRESE STANLEY, a.k.a. “Scoot,” 29, of New Haven
MELVIN ROBERTS, a.k.a. “Psycho” and “Mel,” 62, of New Haven
DENA DRAUGHN, 55, of Hamden

Eighteen of the defendants were arrested today, five defendants were already in custody and two defendants are still being sought.

“As alleged, these drug trafficking networks have been responsible for the distribution of significant quantities of heroin, crack and cocaine in Connecticut and Massachusetts,” said U.S. Attorney Durham.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to stem the drug trade in our cities, and the violence associated with it, by prosecuting those involved in this criminal behavior.”

“Today’s takedown is yet another example of our great working relationship with the New Haven Police Department and all of our law enforcement partners across the state,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Turner.  “All of our efforts are aimed at improving the quality of life of all law abiding residents of Connecticut.”

“On behalf of the New Haven Police Department, I want to thank the FBI and all of our law enforcement partners for their work in this investigation and for the ongoing collaboration to reduce gun violence and improve the quality of life for the citizens of New Haven,” said Chief Reyes.

The indictment charges Julius, Merritt, Carr, Backman, Atkinson, Williams, Brazier, Burruss, Brandy, Turner, Crosley, Roman, Smith, Carter, Senior, Bellamy, Moore and Armstrong with one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, cocaine base (“crack”), cocaine and heroin.  If convicted of this offense, based on the type and quantity of narcotics charged, Julius, Merritt, Carr, Burruss, Crosley and Bellamy face a minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years.  The other defendants, if convicted of this charge, face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

The indictment also charges Backman, Atkinson, Jackson, Jacobs, Stanley, Roberts and Draughn with one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, heroin.  If convicted of this offense, based on the quantity of heroin charged, Backman, Atkinson and Draughn face a minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years.  The other defendants, if convicted of this charge, face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

On June 16, 2019, Atkinson and Draughn were arrested in connection with the seizure of approximately 10,000 bags of heroin.

The indictment also charges several defendants with one or more counts related to the distribution of various narcotics.

In addition, Merritt is charged with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least five years, and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.  On April 12, 2019, Merritt was arrested after a search of his vehicle revealed a Berretta 9mm pistol and two loaded gun magazines.  It is alleged that Merritt’s criminal history includes multiple felony convictions for assault, risk of injury and robbery.

At the time of Merritt’s arrest, he also possessed $73,343 in cash and six cell phones.  The indictment seeks the forfeiture of the cash and Merritt’s 2018 Nissan Maxima.

U.S. Attorney Durham 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 FBI’s New Haven Safe Streets/Gang Task Force, New Haven Police Department, Milford Police Department, Hamden Police Department, East Haven Police Department, Connecticut State Police, Connecticut Department of Correction and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony E. Kaplan, Peter D. Markle and Elena L. Coronado.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated July 10, 2019