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Press Release

New Haven Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Narcotics Distribution Charge

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

Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that JAMES LEE, 24, of New Haven, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Kari A. Dooley in Bridgeport to possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and cocaine base (“crack”).

According to court documents and statements made in court, on March 13, 2021, New Haven Police approached Lee as he was sitting in a car at a gas station.  The car had fled from police on March 8.  A search of Lee’s person revealed $3,815 and a search of the car revealed $3,443.  Officers then found a hidden compartment in the vehicle’s center counsel that contained heroin, crack and cocaine packaged for distribution, and a loaded 9mm handgun.

On the morning of April 5, 2021, a New Haven Police detective traveling in an unmarked police cruiser in the area of Orange Street and Wall Street identified another car that had fled from West Haven Police during an attempted traffic stop on April 1.  The detective followed the car to a location of Brown Street, where he observed occupants of the vehicle engage in what appeared to be street-level drug transactions, and then to a location on Elm Street.  On Elm Street, James Lee, who had been released on bond, and Darryl Russell exited the car and entered a building.  Lee was arrested after he exited the building.  Russell ignored commands not to leave the scene but was apprehended a short distance away after he was found hiding in a trash can.  A search of their car revealed heroin, crack and cocaine packaged for distribution, and more than $2,000 in cash.

Lee has been detained since April 5, 2021.  Judge Dooley scheduled sentencing for December 21, 2021, at which time Lee faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

Russell, 32, of New Haven, has been detained since his arrest on May 21, 2021.  On that date, he possessed additional narcotics packaged for distribution.

On September 14, 2021, Russell pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 7, 2021.

This matter has been investigated by the New Haven Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel J. Gentile.

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 September 29, 2021

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