News Release
June 1, 2006

Two Individuals Involved in Willimantic Drug Trafficking Ring are Sentenced

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 Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello sentenced two individuals today in Hartford for their involvement in a narcotics trafficking ring that was responsible for the distribution of a substantial amount of heroin and other drugs in and around Willimantic, Connecticut.

JOEL DIAZ, also known as “El Viejo,” age 50, (DOB 5/25/56), of 90 Brook Street, Willimantic, was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. On February 3, 2006, DIAZ pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute heroin.

TOMAS ORTIZ, also known as “Tatito,” age 43 (DOB 10/7/62), of 106 Brooklyn Road, Canterbury, Connecticut, was sentenced to 46 months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. On March 13, 2006, ORTIZ pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute heroin.

These charges stem 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. 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.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, beginning in the fall of 2004, the DEA began an investigation of Luis Camacho, a drug trafficker operating in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Following several controlled purchases of narcotics, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, from Camacho, a wiretap investigation of Camacho began in late March 2005. During the course of that wiretap, it was quickly learned that Camacho’s heroin supplier was Alfredo Aguilar of Willimantic. A wiretap investigation of Aguilar that followed revealed that he operated an extensive heroin trafficking operation involving several other Willimantic-area residents, and that Aguilar was supplied with approximately one-half of one kilogram of heroin on a monthly basis by Jose del los Santos Rubio Betancurth of Hartford and Juan Carlos Velez of New Britain, which Aguilar and others redistributed.

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.

DIAZ and ORTIZ were intercepted over the phone ordering quantities of heroin from Aguilar, some or all of which DIAZ and ORTIZ intended to sell to third parties.

Camacho, Aguilar, Betancurth and Velez have pleaded guilty to various narcotics trafficking charges and each awaits sentencing.

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, and the DEA Worcester, Massachusetts Resident Office.