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Hartford Cocaine Trafficker Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison

JAN 31 (HARTFORD, Conn.) – Michael J. Ferguson Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Todd Vernon, 42, of Hartford, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer in New Haven to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for trafficking cocaine.  Vernon also was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Raul Chavez headed a cocaine trafficking operation that smuggled cocaine from Mexico into El Paso, Texas, and then transported the drug to Connecticut and elsewhere.  The investigation revealed that the Chavez organization had been supplying multiple kilograms of cocaine to Vernon since approximately 2004, and Tyshawn Welborn, of Bloomfield, since approximately 2010.  The shipments, which would typically be in the range of 30 to 40 kilograms, were sent regularly from El Paso multiple times per year.  Vernon and Welborn distributed the drug through a network of individuals.

In 2014, the Chavez organization attempted to find an additional source of supply for its Hartford area cocaine customers.  In July 2014, a DEA confidential source met Andrew Duron, also known as “Chavo,” in North Carolina.  During the meeting, Duron told the confidential source that he wanted to purchase up to 50 kilograms of cocaine for $28,000 per kilogram.  On August 14, 2014, Duron, the confidential source and an undercover DEA agent met in New Jersey where Duron agreed to purchase 25 kilograms of cocaine.  In subsequent conversations with the confidential source, Duron stated that he wanted an extra $1000 per kilogram as a side deal.  They agreed on a total price of $725,000 for 25 kilograms of cocaine.

The investigation revealed that this cocaine shipment was destined for both Vernon, who had prepaid for approximately 13 kilograms of cocaine, and Welborn.

On August 23, 2014, Duron met the undercover DEA agent at a location in Wethersfield.  Duron told the undercover agent that his associates were in Connecticut and that Duron and the undercover agent would need to travel to a store parking lot near Bradley International Airport to verify that the money was in place.  Duron and the undercover agent then drove in separate vehicles to a store parking lot on Kennedy Road in Windsor.  Duron met with Raul Chavez and another associate in the store.  A short time later, a third associate arrived in a Jeep Wrangler, met the undercover agent in the parking lot, showed him a duffel bag and said it contained “half” of the money.  Shortly thereafter, investigators arrived at the scene and arrested Duron, Raul Chavez and his associates.

Investigators also recovered from the Jeep a duffel bag containing approximately $284,000 in cash, and a loaded .38 caliber revolver.  The cash had been picked up from Welborn earlier that day.  After word reached Raul Chavez’s son, Christopher Chavez, that his father and others had been arrested, Christopher Chavez coordinated the diversion of a shipment of 34 kilograms of cocaine, which was en route to Connecticut, to a high-level drug distributor in Cleveland, Ohio.  Vernon was arrested on August 26, 2015.  On September 7, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.  Vernon, a citizen of Canada, faces deportation proceedings when he is released from prison.

Raul Chavez, Christopher Chavez, Duron and Welborn also pleaded guilty.  On September 22, 2015, Duron, of El Paso, was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment; on October 7, 2016, Christopher Chavez, of El Paso, was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment; on December 21, 2016, Welborn, also known as “Black,” was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment and a $200,000 fine, and on January 11, 2017, Raul Chavez was sentenced to 144 months of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

This investigation has been conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Hartford Task Force, including personnel from the DEA Hartford Resident Office and the Bristol, Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, Newington, and Wethersfield Police Departments.


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