Joint Investigation Takes Down Willimantic Drug Trafficking Ring
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Patricia Froehlich, Connecticut State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Windham, Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, and Cpl. Stanley Parizo, Jr. of the Willimantic Police Department today announced that a federal grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment today charging nine men with distributing heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine in and around Willimantic.
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, in October 2015, the DEA and Willimantic Police Department, with the assistance of the Connecticut State Police, initiated an investigation into a Willimantic-based narcotics trafficking ring. The investigation, which has included the use of confidential informants, physical surveillance, controlled purchases of drugs and court authorized wiretaps on five cellular telephones utilized by the alleged co-conspirators, revealed that JOSE MIRANDA of the Bronx, New York, was supplying large quantities of heroin and cocaine to CARLOS LOPEZ-ZELADA of Willimantic and PERSIO HERNANDEZ of North Windham. LOPEZ-ZELADA and HERNANDEZ, with the help of other co-conspirators, then distributed heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine in the Willimantic area. The investigation further revealed that LOPEZ-ZELADA utilized a garage unit located on Willimantic Road in Chaplin as a stash location and point of distribution for narcotics.
The indictment charges the following nine defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base (“crack”):
JOSE MIRANDA, a.k.a. “Omar,” 51, of the Bronx, N.Y.
CARLOS ALBERTO LOPEZ-ZELADA, a.k.a. “Willi Mexico,” 39, of Willimantic
RAFAEL GUERRERO-OLEA, a.k.a. “Rafi,” 45, of Chaplin
PERSIO HERNANDEZ, 47, of North Windham
ALBERTO DEJESUS-ROSADO, 30, of Willimantic
JOSE APONTE, 35, of North Windham
JOSE LIZARDO-OLEA, 31, of Willimantic
ANDRES SOLIS, a.k.a. “Shorty” and “Andresito,” 23, of North Windham
RENSO JIMINEZ-JEREZ, a.k.a. “Matrella,” 35, of North Windham
The indictment also charges LOPEZ-ZELADA and GUERRERO-OLEA with possession with intent to distribute heroin.
On June 23, 2016, MIRANDA was arrested on a federal criminal complaint. It is alleged that MIRANDA was arrested before the investigation had reached its natural conclusion because he was intercepted threatening to shoot a co-conspirator who refused to pay him for a quantity of heroin that MIRANDA had provided to the individual on consignment. MIRANDA has been detained since his arrest.
Seven defendants were arrested yesterday on federal criminal complaints and are also detained. JIMINEZ-JEREZ is being sought by law enforcement.
In association with the arrests of the defendants, law enforcement officers seized suspected heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, as well as a shotgun, from a North Windham residence shared by HERNANDEZ, SOLIS and JIMINEZ-JEREZ.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million on each count of the indictment.
“We are committed to using federal law enforcement resources to battle the opioid epidemic in Connecticut, and this investigation was funded in part with money received through the Justice Department’s National Heroin Strategic Initiative,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “I congratulate the Windham State’s Attorney’s Office, DEA, Willimantic Police Department and Connecticut State Police for taking down this trafficking ring and slowing the flow of these deadly drugs into eastern Connecticut.”
“I am always impressed by what we achieve when we all work together,” said Windham State’s Attorney Patricia Froehlich. “The criminal justice system functions effectively only when various agencies work in cooperation with each other, and that is what happened in this case. I appreciate the efforts of all involved.”
“Those suffering from the disease of heroin addiction need access to treatment and recovery,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ferguson. “But, those responsible for distributing lethal drugs like heroin and fentanyl in the neighborhoods of Willimantic and throughout Connecticut need to be held accountable for their actions. In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, DEA and its federal, state and local partners are committed to bringing to justice those that distribute this poison.”
“We are pleased with these arrests and narcotics seizures,” said Cpl. Stanley Parizo, Jr. of the Willimantic Police Department. “This has been an ongoing effort to combat narcotics trafficking within the City of Willimantic. The cooperative efforts of our federal law enforcement partners, the Willimantic Criminal Investigation Division, Willimantic SWAT team and all three city K9 teams made this a great success.”
U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Caruso, Amy Brown, and David Nelson, and Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Crocket.