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Press Release

Man Involved in Hartford Drug Deal That Resulted in Shooting Sentenced to 42 Months in Federal Prison

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

Vanessa Roberts Avery,  United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that THOMAS AQUILES, Jr., 37, formerly of New Britain, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 42 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for a heroin trafficking offense.

According to court documents and statements made in court, at approximately 10:00 p.m. on December 21, 2016, Hartford Police officers responded to a report of a person shot at a car wash located at 156 Franklin Avenue in Hartford.  At the car wash, officers encountered an employee of the car wash who was suffering from two gunshot wounds.  The victim was transported to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries,

The investigation, which included analysis of a surveillance video, revealed that Hector Alfonso arrived at the car wash shortly before the shooting to conduct a heroin transaction with Aquiles and Ruben Rodriguez.  Alfonso and Rodriguez were both armed with handguns.  A dispute and subsequent struggle between Alfonso and Aquiles occurred during the transaction, and Alfonso shot the employee as he attempted to run from the car wash.

Alfonso was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on May 10, 2017.  A search of his Manchester residence on that date revealed cocaine residue on a toilet seat, cocaine, and crack cocaine residue in another part of home, and items used to process and package narcotics for street sale.  Alfonso pleaded guilty to drug and firearm offenses and, on March 22, 2019, he was sentenced to 153 months of imprisonment for both offenses, and for violating the conditions of his supervised release from a prior federal conviction.

Rodriguez was arrested on September 27, 2017.  On that date, a search of his Meriden residence and vehicle revealed a loaded .40 caliber pistol, numerous rounds of ammunition, approximately 133 grams of heroin, approximately 170 grams of cocaine, and $61,909 in cash. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to drug and firearm offenses and, on March 21, 2019, was sentenced to 72 months of imprisonment.

Aquiles, who was on state parole with the state of Connecticut in December 2016, absconded in January 2018 and remained a fugitive until he was arrested in New York in August 2022.  On April 18, 2023, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin.  He is currently detained in state custody.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hartford Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shan Patel and Trial Attorney Brian P. Leaming of the Justice Department’s Violent Crime and Racketeering Section.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Updated December 18, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime