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Press Release

Hartford Crack Dealer Sentenced To Eight Years In Federal Prison

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

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that JUSTIN POWELL, also known as “Jus,” 32, of Hartford, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 96 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for distributing crack cocaine.

This matter stems from “Operation Vinefield,” a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force targeting narcotics trafficking and gang violence in Hartford’s North End.  As a result of the nine-month investigation, 38 individuals were charged with various offenses related to the distribution of crack cocaine and the unlawful possession and dealing of firearms in and around Hartford.

According to court documents and statements made in court, one of the main targets of the investigation was Dementrius Nave, a member of the AVE street gang with a lengthy criminal history.  POWELL, who is not believed to be a member of the AVE, conspired with Nave and others to distribute crack cocaine and other narcotics in Hartford’s Northeast neighborhood.  POWELL and Nave would pool money to acquire narcotics and would serve customers for each other.

POWELL has been detained since his arrest on February 10, 2012.  On that date, investigators conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle in which POWELL was a passenger after they observed what appeared to be a narcotics exchange.  POWELL was on state parole at the time and was wearing a monitoring bracelet.  A subsequent search of POWELL’s residence revealed 63 bags of heroin, which were stamped “Super Bowl XLVI,” and a scale with white-powder residue that tested positive for the presence of cocaine.

On November 4, 2013, POWELL pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).

POWELL’s criminal history includes multiple convictions for sale of narcotics, violation of probation, violation of protective order and assault.

Nave has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

This matter has been investigated by the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, the Connecticut State Police, the Hartford Police Department, and the Connecticut Department of Correction.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Leaming.


Tom Carson
(203) 821-3722

Updated March 18, 2015