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Drug bust in Hartford uncovers large amounts of fentanyl

HARTFORD --  A major early morning drug bust in Hartford and other two busts in East Hartford lead to multiple arrests.  The three busts and several others carried along the eastern seaboard on Thursday are all connected, according to police.

Law enforcement from several different agencies spent more than 12 hours processing the scene at 280 Collins Street in Hartford, near Saint Francis Hospital.

The operation started at around 5 a.m. when multiple search warrants were served as part of a larger ongoing drug investigation.

Thirteen suspects were arrested Thursday.

  • Joel Cordero, 37, of Meriden
  • Edwin Reyes, 34, of Hartford
  • Gisel De La Cruz, 43, of East Hartford
  • Angel De Jesus-Concepcion, a.k.a. “Blue,” 40, of East Hartford
  • Anthony Acosta, 28, of New Britain
  • Gabriel Cordero, 30, of Hartford
  • Alexander Pena, 25, of East Hartford
  • Amarilis Pirela, 38, of Springfield, Mass.
  • Jonathan Velez, 23, of Springfield, Mass.
  • Henry Caraballo, 26, of Hartford
  • Fernando Tolentino, Jr., a.k.a. “Humacao,” 46, of Hartford
  • Daily Pena, 39, of Hartford
  • Angel Rijo-Castillo, 41, of Guttenberg, N.J.

They were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution heroin, and possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin.

The Hartford Police Department and Connecticut State Police are helping with this investigation, which was in large part a DEA operation.

Federal authorities began their investigation in October 2016. Using wiretaps, controlled purchases, and surveillance, showed that members of the operation were receiving bulk quantities of heroin and fentanyl from Western Massachusetts. A significant amount of activity happened at the Neighborhood Supermarket,  at 316 Farmington Ave. Hartford. Law enforcement from Massachusetts and New York were also involved.

The feds seized around 20 kilograms of suspected heroin, most of which was packaged for resale in hundreds of thousands of bags.  Investigators also seized numerous vials of Xylazine, which is a horse tranquilizer used by narcotics traffickers as a heroin additive.  Seven firearms also were seized.

Addresses involved in the investigation include:

  • 280 Collins Street, Apartment #316, Hartford
  • 280 Collins Street, Apartment #101, Hartford
  • 280 Collins Street, Apartment #401, Hartford
  • Neighborhood Supermarket, 316 Farmington Avenue, Hartford
  • 104 Wood Drive, East Hartford
  • 212 Greenwood Street, East Hartford
  • 25 Edgewood Avenue, Apartment 203, New Britain
  • 775 West Main Street, Unit C, Meriden

Deputy Chief Brian Foley of the Hartford Police Department said it's likely the lead up to the case has been roughly a year in the making.  HPD continues to work closely with the DEA on matters involving heroin.

Authorities pulled large amounts of heroin and substantial amounts of the deadly, synthetic opioid fentanyl out of the Collins Street apartments, forcing them to suit up in full hazmat gear, leaving no skin or airway exposed before they entered the property.  Fentanyl is a highly potent substance that can cause an overdose through skin contact or by breathing it.

Suspects involved with the drug raid were previously known to authorities, according to police.