Skip to main content
Press Release

New Haven Man Sentenced to More Than 10 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Heroin

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

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that BRIAN K. BACKMAN, also known as “B,” “NYB” and “New York B,” 55, of New Haven, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to 121 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for trafficking heroin.

This matter stems from an investigation headed by the FBI’s New Haven Safe Streets/Gang Task Force and New Haven Police Department that targeted drug trafficking and related acts of violence by members, former members and associates of the “Island Brothers” street gang in New Haven.  The investigation, which included court-authorized wiretaps and controlled purchases of narcotics, also revealed that the drug trafficking organization had established a base of operation in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  The investigation subsequently identified a second drug trafficking network that involved the large-scale distribution of heroin.

During the investigation, Backman was identified as a supplier of heroin to members of the New Haven drug trafficking organization.  Backman was intercepted over multiple wiretaps discussing the acquisition of heroin from a supplier in New York for redistribution in and around New Haven.

On June 16, 2019, Backman sent a courier, Dena Draughn, to pick up a large shipment of heroin from a New York supplier.  He then directed an associate, Anderson Atkinson, to meet Draughn at a Hamden parking lot to retrieve the heroin.  Investigators arrested Draughn and Atkinson after they met at the parking lot, and seized approximately 10,000 bags of heroin with a net weight of approximately 300 grams.

On July 9, 2019, a grand jury in New Haven returned a 15-count indictment charging Backman, Draughn, Atkinson and 22 other individuals with various offenses.

Backman has been detained since his arrest on July 10, 2019.  On October 28, 2019, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.

Backman’s criminal history spans more than 30 years and includes convictions in three states and a federal conviction in the Southern District of New York.

Draughn and Atkinson have pleaded guilty to related charges and await sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the FBI’s New Haven Safe Streets/Gang Task Force, New Haven Police Department, Milford Police Department, Hamden Police Department, East Haven Police Department, Connecticut State Police, Connecticut Department of Correction and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony E. Kaplan, Peter D. Markle and Elena L. Coronado.

Updated March 11, 2020

Drug Trafficking