News Release
For Immediate Release:
May 28, 2010
Contact: Special Agent Tony Pettigrew
Number: 617-557-2138

Leader of New Haven Drug Trafficking Ring Pleads Guilty

MAY 28 -- Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JUAN TORRES-RIOS, also known as “Cangri,” 41, formerly Hurlburt Street, New Haven, pleaded guilty yesterday, May 27, before Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin.  The charge stems from TORRES-RIOS’ leadership of a New Haven-area narcotics trafficking ring.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in the fall of 2008, the New Haven DEA Task Force initiated “Operation King of the Hill,” an investigation into a heroin and crack cocaine trafficking organization headed by TORRES-RIOS that was operating in New Haven.  The investigation included controlled purchases of narcotics, physical surveillance and the use of court-authorized wiretaps on wireless phones known to be used by TORRES-RIOS and two members of his drug trafficking organization.  During the wiretap phase of the investigation, DEA Task Force agents monitored thousands of calls that the Government has alleged pertained to narcotics trafficking.

The investigation revealed that the TORRES-RIOS organization controlled heroin distribution in the “Hill” section of New Haven, particularly Hurlburt Street, where TORRES-RIOS resided.  The organization regularly obtained bulk quantities of pre-packaged “bundles” of heroin, principally from a New York source-of-supply.  The heroin, and also crack cocaine, was distributed through a network of mid-level dealers.  “Bundles” are 10, single-dose bags of heroin tied or “bundled” together.  Each bag of heroin was stamped with one of several logos or brand names that were associated with the TORRES-RIOS organization, including “Turbo,” “Hummer,” “Diamond Cut,” and “White Castle.”

In a call intercepted on December 1, 2008, TORRES-RIOS told a lieutenant in his organization to bring him “two bundles.”  In another call intercepted the next day, TORRES-RIOS and his lieutenant discussed a problem involving two of the organization’s street-level dealers.  TORRES-RIOS directed Santana to “fire both of them” and to “take the bundle” of heroin that had been provided to one of the workers.

On December 9, 2008, TORRES-RIOS received a call from one of his heroin distributors who said “the narcs went after me again, man . . . I did the sale to the woman with the hoarse voice . . . I threw away 16 bags, but I have two bundles, but I had to leave the car over there, and now I’ve called [the lieutenant] to pick up the car.”

In pleading guilty, TORRES-RIOS acknowledged that he possessed a firearm in connection with the narcotics trafficking offense.

Judge Covello has scheduled sentencing for August 17, 2010, at which time TORRES-RIOS faces a minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum term of 40 years and a fine of up to $2 million.

Twenty individuals, including TORRES-RIOS, have been charged as a result of the investigation.  To date, 19 defendants have pleaded guilty.

This matter was investigated by the New Haven Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, including DEA agents and officers from the New Haven, West Haven, Meriden, Shelton, Hamden, Branford and Ansonia Police Departments.