Joint Law Enforcement Operation Disrupts Hartford Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Distribution Network
APR 20 -- June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and Kevin J. O’Connor, United States for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford has returned a 25-count Indictment charging 13 individuals with federal narcotics violations and firearms offenses. The Indictment was returned on April 10, 2007.
The Indictment stems from a six-month investigation by an FBI-led task force consisting of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and officers from the Hartford and Bloomfield Police Departments. Further assistance was provided by members from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the East Hartford Police Department, and the Mid-State Narcotics Task Force. The long-term investigation included the use of a variety of investigative techniques including controlled purchases of crack cocaine, federal wiretaps over a two-month period, physical surveillance, and the execution of search and seizure warrants.
The investigation that led to the indictment and subsequent arrests of the 13 defendants was initiated following a spike in violent crime in the North End section of Hartford. The initial investigation focused on drug trafficking activity associated in the area of Capen and Tolland Streets, and on an individual named BYRON TURNER, also known as “BY,” age 26, of 270 Capen Street, Hartford. That stage of the investigation resulted in the purchase and seizure of more than one-half kilogram of crack cocaine. Electronic surveillance initiated on two telephones utilized by TURNER further identified VIDA DEAS, also known as “V,” age 34, of 360 Wethersfield Avenue, Hartford; KARVASIK CALDWELL, also known as “Country,” age 43, of 32 Florence Street, Hartford; MICHAEL STEWART, age 27, of 59 Columbus Circle, Hartford; LUIS RAMOS, also known as “Carlos” and “Papi,” age 40, of 447 Barbour Street, Hartford; MARTA RAMOS, age 45, of 447 Barbour Street, Hartford; LASHAWN SMITH, age 23, of 46 Deerfield Avenue, Hartford; ROBERTO STEWART, age 31, of 150 Nelson Street, Hartford; GREGORY BOLLING, also known as “Nice,” age 35, formerly of 44 Adams Street, Hartford; TIMOTHY BROWN, age 47, of 55 Mansfield Street, Hartford; KENNETH WILSON, age 41, of 3 Lyman Road, Middletown; WILLIAM MONIZ, age 43, formerly of 29 Scantic Meadow Road, South Windsor; and DARLENE CAPUTO, age 42, formerly of 200 Annes Court, Rocky Hill, as drug trafficking associates of TURNER.
The investigation revealed that TURNER was proficient in converting powder cocaine into crack cocaine and utilized BROWN’s residence at 55 Mansfield Street, Hartford, to engage in the conversion process. The interception of wire communications further disclosed that TURNER was selling crack cocaine to LUIS RAMOS and MARTA RAMOS, who were utilizing their residence at 447 Barbour Street, Hartford, to redistribute the crack they purchased from TURNER.
CALDWELL, who also was identified as a co-conspirator in TURNER’s crack cocaine distribution organization, was arrested on March 22, 2007, with a quantity of crack cocaine in his possession, in addition to narcotics paraphernalia and approximately $13,000 in United States currency.
MONIZ was arrested on February 8, 2007, with a quantity of cocaine powder in his possession, after law enforcement officers observed a meeting between TURNER and MONIZ, which wire intercepts confirmed was for the sale of cocaine.
WILSON was arrested on March 2, 2007, with a quantity of crack cocaine in his possession, after law enforcement officers observed a meeting between TURNER and WILSON, which wire intercepts reveal was for the sale of crack.
DEAS was observed on multiple occasions engaging in street-level sales of crack cocaine in March 2007. A subsequent search of DEAS’ Wethersfield Avenue residence uncovered significant quantities of crack cocaine, as well as instruments utilized in the conversion of powder cocaine into crack cocaine.
On March 27, 2007, a search and seizure warrant was executed at 270 Capen Street, Hartford; 530 Tolland Street, East Hartford; 360A Wethersfield Avenue, Hartford; 55 Mansfield Street, Hartford; and 447 Barbour Street, Third Floor, Hartford. The execution of those warrants resulted in the seizure of seven firearms, quantities of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, narcotics paraphernalia, approximately $20,000 in cash, and six vehicles utilized in furtherance of drug trafficking activities.
TURNER, DEAS, CALDWELL, MICHAEL STEWART, LUIS RAMOS, MARTA RAMOS, and ROBERTO STEWART are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”). Due to these defendants’ prior narcotics convictions, each faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a maximum of life imprisonment, and up to $8,000,000 in fines, if convicted of this charge.
TURNER and DEAS are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of powder cocaine. If convicted of this charge, the defendants face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life imprisonment, and fines of up to $4,000,000.
TURNER, SMITH, BOLLING, and MONIZ are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute powder cocaine. If convicted of this charge, each defendant faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and fines of up to $1,000,000. Defendants with prior narcotics convictions face a maximum term of imprisonment 30 years and fines of up to $2,000,000.
TURNER, WILSON and CAPUTO are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Due to these defendants’ prior narcotics convictions, each faces a term of imprisonment of up to 30 years and $2,000,000 in fines, if convicted of this charge.
The Indictment also alleges that BROWN, LUIS RAMOS, and MARTA RAMOS maintained and made available their residences for the unlawful manufacture, distribution, and use of drugs. If convicted of this offense, each faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and fines of up to $500,000.
The Indictment further alleges that TURNER, LUIS RAMOS, MARTA RAMOS, SMITH, CALDWELL, DEAS and WILSON, on various dates, possessed with the intent to distribute powder cocaine or crack cocaine. If convicted, these defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and fines of up to $1,000,000. Defendants with prior narcotics convictions face terms of imprisonment of up to life, mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years, and fines of up to $8,000,000.
Finally, the Indictment alleges that TURNER, LUIS RAMOS and MARTA RAMOS were in possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and after having previously been convicted of felony offenses. If convicted, these defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and fines of up to $250,000. The defendants also face up to five years of imprisonment, which would run consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed on their drug trafficking convictions.
U.S. Attorney O’Connor stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Hartford Police Department, the Bloomfield Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the East Hartford Police Department, and the Mid-State Narcotics Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by James I. Glasser, Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Kang.