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Press Release

Honduran National Involved in New Haven Drug Ring Sentenced to 5 Years in Federal Prison

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

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that GABRIEL ROMERO ESCALERA-ROMERO, 29, a citizen of Honduras, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill to 60 months of imprisonment for trafficking cocaine. 

Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the court proceeding occurred via videoconference.

This matter stems from a joint investigation headed by the DEA New Haven Task Force, FBI and New Haven Police Department that included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of heroin and cocaine, and seizures of bulk heroin and cocaine.  The investigation revealed that Duane Filyaw, of New Haven, operated a heroin and cocaine trafficking ring in which he conspired with others to purchase narcotics from suppliers and then distribute the drugs to other suppliers of street-level dealers in and around New Haven.  Escalera-Romero, who was residing in Bridgeport, worked with his associate, Neftali Fernandez, to supply Filyaw and others with bulk quantities of cocaine.

During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized more than 500 grams of heroin, more than 300 grams of fentanyl, more than one kilogram of cocaine, three firearms, over $90,000 in cash, vehicles, jewelry and precious metals.

On April 19, 2018, a grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment charging Escalera-Romero, Filyaw, Fernandez and 16 other individuals with narcotics trafficking offenses.  Escalera-Romero and several other members of the conspiracy were arrested on April 25, 2018.

Escalera-Romero has been detained since his arrest.  On January 16, 2020, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

Escalera-Romero faces deportation proceedings when he completes his prison term.

Filyaw and Hernandez have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

The DEA New Haven Task Force includes participants from the U.S. Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and the New Haven, Hamden, West Haven, North Haven, Branford, Ansonia, Meriden, Derby, Middletown, Naugatuck and Waterbury Police Departments.  The Connecticut Department of Correction, Milford Police Department and East Haven Police Department have assisted the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys H. Gordon Hall and Patrick F. Caruso.

Updated May 26, 2020

Drug Trafficking