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Press Release

New Britain Man Charged with Fentanyl Distribution and Firearm Possession Offenses

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

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, and Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody today announced that a federal grand jury in Hartford has returned an indictment charging THOMAS RIVERA, 29, of New Britain, with fentanyl distribution and firearm possession offenses.

The indictment was returned on July 21, 2022, and Rivera was arrested yesterday.  Following his arrest he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. Richardson in Hartford who ordered Rivera detained.

As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, on June 3, 2022, Hartford Police stopped a vehicle Rivera was operating and found him in possession of a bag containing approximately 140 grams of fentanyl, approximately 370 sleeves of fentanyl, a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol, and $1,323 in cash.  Rivera was arrested on state charges at that time and subsequently posted a $1 million bond.

The indictment alleges that Rivera’s criminal history includes state felony convictions for firearm possession and drug distribution offenses.  It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.

The indictment charges Rivera with one count of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years; one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, which carries mandatory consecutive prison term of at least five years; and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years.

U.S. Attorney Avery stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Hartford Task Force and the Hartford Police Department’s Vice, Intelligence and Narcotics Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Ruff.

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 August 3, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses