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Press Release

New Haven Gang Associate Sentenced to 13 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 RODRIGO RAMIREZ, also known as “Rico,” 36, of New Haven, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 156 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for his role in a violent New Haven street gang.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in January 2014, ATF and the New Haven Police Department began “Operation Red Side” through a series of controlled narcotics purchases and firearms seizures.  The investigation revealed that members and associates of the Red Side Guerilla Brims (“RSGB”), a sect of the Bloods street gang based in New Haven, were engaged in narcotics trafficking and related acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assaults and armed robberies.  In addition to distributing crack cocaine and other narcotics in and around New Haven, the investigation indicated that members and associates of the RSGB, under the direction of Jeffrey Benton and others, transported the drugs to Bangor, Maine, and sold them in Bangor and its surrounding communities.  The RSGB also traded narcotics for firearms, brought the firearms back to New Haven and distributed them to gang members.  RAMIREZ was an associate of RSGB.

On April 20, 2011, Benton recruited RAMIREZ to assist in the robbery of money and marijuana from Kevin Lee of New Haven.  On that date, Benton, RAMIREZ, Luis “Chewie” Padilla and Miles “Molly Rock” Price drove to the vicinity of Lee’s residence.  Benton, Padilla and Price walked to the residence and Ramirez stayed in the car.  Benton handed Price a .45 caliber handgun as they approached the back door.  After Lee answered the door, Lee tried to grab Price’s gun and lunged at Price with a knife.  Padilla then shot Lee once in the stomach, once in the back, and finally in the head.

RAMIREZ also traveled to Maine at Benton’s request to assist in RSGB’s crack cocaine distribution enterprise.

On September 2, 2014, RAMIREZ was arrested on federal narcotics distribution charges in Maine.  His case was transferred to the District of Connecticut for further prosecution and, on June 16, 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity and admitted his involvement in the murder of Kevin Lee and in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in Maine.  RAMIREZ has been detained since his arrest.

As a result of this investigation, 21 members and associates of the RSGB were convicted of federal charges in Connecticut and Maine.  The investigation has resolved seven murder cases, four attempted murders and four armed robberies that occurred in 2011 and 2012.

Benton, Padilla and Price pleaded guilty to various offenses stemming from this investigation, and admitted to participating in the murder of Kevin Lee.  Benton also admitted that he participated in three other gang-related murders and one attempted murder, and Padilla admitted that he participated in two other gang-related murders and two attempted murders.

On October 4, 2017, Benton was sentenced to 480 months of imprisonment, and on March 7, 2018, Price was sentenced to 144 months imprisonment.  Padilla awaits sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Durham noted that federal prisoners are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentenced term of imprisonment and are not eligible for parole.

This investigation has been conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the New Haven Police Department, the Connecticut Department of Correction, the Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Hamden Police Department.  The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office also provided critical assistance in the investigation.

An instrumental component of the investigation has been the work of the Connecticut State Crime Laboratory in utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to analyze ballistics evidence.

This matter is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Markle and Jocelyn Kaoutzanis.  A related case in the District of Maine is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.

Updated April 24, 2018

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