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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Hartford Jury Finds Jamaican Drug Trafficker Guilty

Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal jury in Hartford has found ONIEL WILKS, 42, a citizen of Jamaica, guilty of narcotics, identity fraud and money laundering offenses.  The trial before U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson began on December 13 and the jury returned the verdicts this morning.

According to the evidence at trial, in November 2018, members of the FBI’s Bridgeport Safe Streets Task Force arrested several individuals, including Louie McDowell, who were distributing large quantities of heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine in an around Bridgeport.  The investigation subsequently revealed that McDowell was being supplied with heroin, fentanyl and cocaine by Wilks, who was using a false identity and living in California.  Wilks, who had been removed from the U.S. to Jamaica in February 2014 and then illegally reentered the U.S., used stolen identifying information of an individual to apply for and receive a Florida driver’s license in 2015, and a U.S. passport in 2016.  Investigators determined that Wilks had used his fraudulent passport to travel overseas, including to Japan and Thailand.

In April 2019, Wilks, using his stolen identity, was stopped by law enforcement officers in southern California with five kilograms of suspected cocaine in the car he was driving.  As the investigation into Wilks’ drug trafficking activities continued, in July 2019, investigators seized a package containing six kilograms of cocaine that was being mailed from California to Connecticut.  On August 5, 2019, Wilks was arrested and court-authorized searches of two residences and a vehicle connected to him revealed approximately four kilograms of fentanyl, items used to process and package narcotics, false identifications and more than $160,000 in cash.

The jury found Wilks guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, five kilograms or more of cocaine and 400 grams or more of fentanyl; one count of making a false statement in a passport application; one count of aggravated identity theft; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Judge Thompson scheduled sentencing for March 16, 2022, at which time Wilks faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 12 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

Wilks also will forfeit a 2014 Dodge Ram truck, a 2019 Toyota Rav4, a 2017 Acura MDX, diamonds originally valued at more than $50,000, a watch he purchased for more than $12,000, and approximately $180,000 seized from a bank account.

Wilks has been detained since his arrest.

McDowell has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

This investigation has been conducted by the FBI’s Bridgeport Safe Streets Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Connecticut State Police, and the Bridgeport, Stratford, Norwalk, Seymour and Trumbull Police Departments.  The investigation has been assisted by law enforcement in California, including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”) Task Force Group 44, the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Narcotics Suppression Program, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Culver City Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen L. Peck and A. Reed Durham.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Identity Theft
Immigration
Component(s): 
Updated December 22, 2021