New Haven Man Sentenced to 87 Months for Distributing Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Involved in Spate of Overdoses
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, announced that FRANK PINA, 57, of New Haven, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 87 months of imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release, for distributing fentanyl-laced cocaine that led to three overdose deaths in New Haven in June.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on June 23, 2016, 17 individuals in New Haven overdosed after consuming narcotics. Three of the victims died. An investigation conducted by the DEA and New Haven Police Department revealed that many or all of the victims believed the substance they were consuming was cocaine. However, DEA laboratory testing indicated the cocaine was laced with fentanyl, a powerful opioid that can be at least 50 times more powerful than heroin.
The investigation revealed that PINA supplied drugs through various middlemen to several of the individuals who overdosed, including the three who died, on June 23, 2016. The investigation further revealed that the day before the overdoses occurred, PINA was discharged from the hospital after having overdosed on the same drugs that he subsequently distributed.
“This defendant sold cocaine laced with fentanyl creating a lethal cocktail that tragically stole three lives,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “He himself spent three days in the hospital having overdosed on the same toxic mixture. His crime is all the more shameful as he was fully aware of the acute danger of the cocaine he was peddling. His actions reflect a callous disregard for human life and were motivated solely by profit. I commend the DEA Task Force, the New Haven Police and all the emergency medical personnel who responded on that terrible day in June. Their swift actions saved lives that day and their ongoing investigative work during this opioid epidemic continues to save lives.”
“Anytime there is a loss of life involving a drug overdose it is a tragic event; but even more so in this case given the number of victims in less than one day,” said Special Agent in Charge Ferguson. “Those suffering from the disease of fentanyl and heroin addiction need access to treatment and recovery. But, those responsible for distributing these lethal drugs to the citizens of New Haven need to be held accountable for their actions. In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, DEA and its local, state and federal partners are committed to bringing to justice those that distribute this poison.”
PINA has been detained since his arrest on June 27. On August 4, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, controlled substances.
PINA’s criminal history includes multiple state felony convictions, and a federal felony drug conviction in 2004.
This investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the New Haven Police Department. The Tactical Diversion Squad includes members from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon, Wilton, Milford, Monroe, Fairfield and Manchester Police Departments, and the Connecticut State Police.
This prosecution is part of an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi M. Perry.