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News Release
February 17, 2004

Two Sentenced for Trafficking Narcotics

Mark R. Trouville, 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 SOTERO RIVERA, also known as "Jose Ramos," age 26, formerly of 114 Park Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts, was sentenced today to 10 years incarceration, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for violating federal narcotics laws. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford. RIVERA, who is a citizen of the Dominican Republic, faces deportation after he serves his sentence of imprisonment. RIVERA has been in custody since his arrest on related state charges in November 2001. On October 10, 2003, RIVERA pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute "crack" cocaine.

RIVERA was indicted with three other individuals, including his brother, Serapio Rivera, and his cousin, Juan Candalario, in July 2002. The indictment resulted from a Drug Enforcement Administration's New Haven Drug Task Force long-term investigation into a New York organization operating a "crack" distribution ring in New Haven. In court proceedings, it was disclosed that the task force investigation, which involved cellular telephone taps and seizures of cash and drugs, established that RIVERA and his co-defendants were responsible for distributing large quantities of "crack" and cocaine powder in New Haven from the fall 2001 through their arrests. At the time of his guilty plea, RIVERA agreed that he was responsible for the distribution equivalent of 15 to 50 kilograms of cocaine.

Serapio Rivera was sentenced by Judge Thompson in January 2004 to an 87-month term of incarceration. The other defendants have entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing. In a related case, EDUARDO ESCALERA-TORRES, also known as "Virgilio Corchado-Igartua," age 31, formerly of Los Reyes, Michoacan, Mexico, was re-sentenced today by Judge Thompson to 87 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. ESCALERA-TORRES previously pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and was sentenced by Judge Thompson in March 2003, but the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded the case for a technical clarification. ESCALERA-TORRES has been incarcerated since his arrest on related state charges in August 2001. He also faces deportation after he serves his sentence of imprisonment.

ESCALERA-TORRES was one of five individuals indicted on March 6, 2002, on cocaine conspiracy and related charges. In court proceedings, it was disclosed that the DEA's New Haven Drug Task Force had determined that the New York distribution organization referenced above was supplied with cocaine, in part, by a wholesale distribution organization headquartered in New Haven. On August 6, 2001, ESCALERA-TORRES was apprehended by authorities in New Haven as he and a co-defendant were transporting approximately 4 kilograms of cocaine and over $30,000 from New Haven to New York.

All of the defendants in this case have entered pleas of guilty. One is to be sentenced in March, and the others have previously been sentenced to terms of incarceration of from five to 19 years.

This case was investigated by the New Haven Drug Task Force, which is composed of elements of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New Haven and West Haven Police Departments.

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