News Release
April 20, 2006

Leader of Willimantic Heroin Ring Pleads Guilty

APR 20-- June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and Kevin J. O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ALFREDO AGUILAR, age 35, of 64 Elm Street, Willimantic, Connecticut, pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Smith in Hartford to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.  When he is sentenced, AGUILAR faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and a fine of up to $4,000,000.

This matter stems from an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation dubbed “Operation SAPO,” which began in late 2004 and was spearheaded by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.  A court-authorized wiretap investigation of AGUILAR revealed that he operated an extensive heroin trafficking operation involving several other Willimantic-area residents.  The investigation revealed that Jose Del Los Santos Rubio Betancurth of Hartford and Juan Carlos Velez of New Britain supplied AGUILAR with approximately a half-kilogram of heroin on a monthly basis for distribution in and around Willimantic.

Searches at the conclusion of the four-month wiretap investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately 2 kilograms of cocaine, 350 grams of heroin, 400 grams of methamphetamine, two handguns and $14,000 in cash.

On August 10, 2005, a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford returned and 18-count indictment charging 23 individuals with various narcotics offenses, primarily related to the distribution of heroin.  To date, 13 individuals charged as a result of Operation SAPO have pleaded guilty to various federal drug charges.

Betancurth and Velez have each pleaded guilty to heroin trafficking charges and await sentencing.        U.S. Attorney O’Connor noted that Willimantic is a Department of Justice recognized and funded Weed and Seed site.  Weed and Seed is a Department of Justice strategy that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods across the country.  Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in “weeding out” criminals who participate in violent crime and drug abuse, attempting to prevent their return to the targeted area.  “Seeding” brings human services to the area, encompassing prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization.

U.S. Attorney O’Connor encouraged individuals in the Willimantic area who believe they have a drug dependency to seek help for their problem by calling the “New Perceptions Program” in Willimantic at (860) 450-0151, and in Danielson at (860) 779-5852.

 This investigation was a collaborative effort of the Drug Enforcement Administration Hartford Resident Office, which included members of the Hartford, East Hartford, Southington, Manchester and West Hartford police departments, the Willimantic Police Department, the Connecticut State Police, Massachusetts State Police, the Southbridge, Massachusetts police department, the DEA Worcester, Massachusetts Resident Office, the State’s Attorney’s Office for the Judicial District of Windham and the United States Attorney’s Office.