Hartford Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Drug and Firearm Charges
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that RICARDO REYES, also known as “Rick the Ruler,” 40, of Hartford, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to offenses related to the possession and trafficking of narcotics and firearms.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2018, the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Gang Task Force began investigating Reyes, a member of the Los Solidos street gang, who was distributing fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack in the area of Park Street and Hungerford Street in Hartford. On September 9, 2018, Reyes was arrested by Hartford Police on state charges after they found him in possession of a firearm and approximately 250 bags of heroin/fentanyl. Between January and June 2019, while Reyes was released on bond in his state case, investigators conducted multiple controlled purchases of narcotics from Reyes. Court authorized wiretaps confirmed that Reyes was distributing narcotics to numerous customers, and identified individuals who supplied drugs to Reyes and associates who sold drugs on his behalf.
Intercepted communications also revealed that Norman Klosek of Enfield was acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms for Reyes. On April 22, 2019, Reyes picked up Klosek in Enfield and drove to a licensed gun dealer in Newington, where Klosek, who had a valid state firearm permit, purchased two handguns. Klosek then provided the guns to Reyes after the purchase. Later that day, investigators conducted a traffic stop of Reyes’ vehicle in New Britain and seized the two firearms. A search of the vehicle also revealed approximately 450 bags of suspected heroin/fentanyl, more than one pound of marijuana, and $1,160 in cash. Reyes was charged with state offenses, released on bond, and resumed his drug trafficking activity.
Reyes and several co-defendants were arrested on a federal criminal complaints on June 17, 2019. On that date, investigators seized two additional guns that had been purchased by Klosek, one that was in Reyes’ car and one that was in a Rowe Avenue residence that Reyes’ used as a stash location. Investigators also seized approximately 3,500 bags of fentanyl from the stash house, and approximately $6,000 from Reyes’ residence.
Reyes has been detained since his federal arrest. On June 27, 2019, a grand jury Hartford returned a 32-count indictment charging Reyes and 14 associates with various narcotics trafficking and firearm possession offenses.
Reyes pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of, 40 grams or more of fentanyl and 28 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack”), and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Judge Shea scheduled sentencing for June 5, 2020, at which time Reyes faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
Reyes’ criminal history includes state drug convictions, and a federal conviction for dealing firearms without a license. The previous federal case involved Reyes and an associate, who had a valid state firearm permit, purchasing at least 13 firearms and selling them to drug dealers. Reyes was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for that offense.
On March 2, 2020, Klosek pleaded guilty to one count of dealing firearms without a license, and one count of making a false statement during the acquisition of a firearm. Klosek, who was addicted to heroin/fentanyl, admitted that he had purchased a total of 47 handguns, and that he had sold or “loaned” the guns he had purchased to support his drug addiction. To date, approximately 10 of the 47 guns purchased by Klosek have been recovered by law enforcement. One gun was recovered after it was used in a shooting in Hartford on August 22, 2019.
The FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Gang Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division and the New Britain Police Department have provided valuable assistance to the investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Leaming.