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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
April 7, 2004

Three Plead Guilty to Cocaine Possession

APR 7 - 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 RICARDO ORTIZ, age 33, of 92 Waverly Avenue, Milford; DAVID VANWAGNER, age 43 of 21 Mount Vernon Avenue, Bridgeport; and ALEX BARREIRO, age 31, of 1141 Central Avenue, Bridgeport, all entered pleas of guilty today to possession of cocaine. The guilty pleas were accepted by United States Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in federal court in Bridgeport. Each of the defendants entered their pleas of guilty less than two weeks after their arrests on the drug charges.

U.S. Attorney O'Connor explained that arrest warrants and criminal complaints were authorized for ORTIZ, VANWAGNER, and BARREIRO charging them with possession of cocaine. The charges lodged against these men stem from a long-term investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration together with the Bridgeport Police Department, the Stratford Police Department, the Stamford Police Department, and the Connecticut State Police Statewide Cooperative Crime Control Task Force. That investigation focused on significant drug traffickers operating in the greater Bridgeport area. In the course of that investigation, significant evidence was collected concerning persons who purchased drugs from these distributors.

These prosecutions are being brought by federal authorities in an effort to quell the demand for drugs. U.S. Attorney O'Connor noted and documents filed with the Court reflect that BARREIRO was employed as a state corrections officer and Mr. ORTIZ was employed by the United States Postal Service at the time of the offenses.

"Federal law enforcement authorities have long focused their attention on those who sell drugs, but sufficient effort has not been expended on addressing those who make the market for the dealers," U.S. Attorney O'Connor stated. "While dealers are convicted and sent away for decades, drug buyers often remain unprosecuted and unpunished. These prosecution and others like it should send a message to those who may be inclined to buy and possess drugs - the risks are simply not worth it."

Bridgeport Police Chief Wilbur Chapman added, "We welcome the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office and federal law enforcement authorities to help send the message to people who come into our City from the suburbs for the purpose of buying drugs: Don't create the market and bring all the attendant ills of drug trafficking into our City."

As a consequence of today's guilty pleas, ORTIZ, VANWAGNER, and BARREIRO face up to one year in prison, up to one year of supervised release to follow any period of imprisonment imposed, a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum fine of $100,000, the costs of investigation and prosecution, and a mandatory $25 fine.

Pursuant to plea agreements with the Government, ORTIZ, VANWAGNER, and BARREIRO each agreed to donate to the B.J. Brown Memorial Fund the money they were going to use to purchase cocaine. This fund was established to honor the memory of Leroy Brown who was a witness to a drug-related shooting and was later murdered. Monies donated to the B.J. Brown Memorial Fund are used to improve and maintain a park in Bridgeport.

"It is fitting that money that was to be used to buy drugs are being put to a constructive purpose that will honor the memory of a child who was a victim of the insidious evil of drugs and drug trafficking," U.S. Attorney O'Connor said. These cases were investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Stamford Police Department, the Stratford Police Department, the Bridgeport Police Department, and the Connecticut State Police.


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