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Press Release

Former Hartford Resident Involved in Illegal Pill Trafficking Ring Sentenced to 5 Years in 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 JOHNATTAN FERNANDEZ-LOPEZ, 37, a citizen of the Dominican Republic formerly residing in Hartford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 60 months of imprisonment for his role in a narcotics trafficking organization that distributed oxycodone pills, counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, and other drugs in the Hartford area.

According to court documents and statements made in court, this matter stems from a joint investigation by the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and the FBI Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force targeting individuals who were distributing oxycodone pills, counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, and other drugs from neighborhood grocery stores in New Britain and Hartford.

Between January 2020 and March 2021, investigators made several controlled purchases of illegal pills at the Washington Market, formerly located at 453 Washington Street in Hartford; JZ Tobacco, located at 25 New Britain Avenue in Hartford, and Prestige Market, located at 23 New Britain Avenue in Hartford.  Fernandez-Lopez was the primary seller of pills during the evening hours at JZ Tobacco, and possessed a firearm in connection with the offense.

On December 20, 2020, investigators stopped a vehicle registered to Ray Urena, a co-defendant of Fernandez-Lopez, and found approximately 4,000 illegal pills and $51,000 in cash in a hidden “trap” beneath the front passenger seat of the car.

Urena and others were arrested on May 18, 2021.  On that date, searches of an apartment on Colonial Street in Hartford that was used by the drug trafficking organization, and two vehicles parked outside of the stash house, revealed approximately two kilograms of fentanyl, approximately 170 grams of heroin, more than 5,000 real and counterfeit oxycodone pills, approximately 2,000 Xanax pills, approximately one kilogram of cocaine, approximately 100 grams of crack, items used to process and package narcotics, two handguns, and ammunition.  A search of Urena’s residence in Waterbury revealed approximately $54,000.

Fernandez-Lopez has been detained since his arrest on November 10, 2021.  On March 28, 2024, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 40 grams or more of fentanyl.  He faces immigration proceedings when he completes his prison term.

Urena pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

The DEA’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad is composed of personnel from the DEA and the Bristol, East Windsor, Hamden, New Britain, West Haven, Newington, Manchester, Glastonbury, and Watertown Police Departments.  The FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, New Britain Police Department, West Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Pierpont, Jr.

Updated June 27, 2024

Topics
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Prescription Drugs
Firearms Offenses