HARTFORD -- 16 people are facing more than 31 charges following a joint investigation by Hartford Police and the FBI into a local "street gang." The indictment charges all of them with federal drug offenses, related to the distribution of heroin and crack cocaine in Hartford. Four of them also face gun and robbery charges.
The arrests are part of "Operation Stamp Out" - a task force that targeted gang violence and drug trafficking in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood, and related overdoses. The investigation also stemmed from the deadly shooting of a 19-year-old on Cherry Street in October 2015. The people involved are said to be part of the Orange Street Killas, or OSK.
"OSK is a geographically-based street gang operating principally in the area of Orange, Cherry and Arbor Streets," Wednesday's statement said.
Authorities used on court-authorized wiretaps, drug buys, and physical and video surveillance. Prosecutors say all of which revealed that Ruben Torres and certain OSK members acquired heroin and crack cocaine from other OSK members and then sold it on the streets of Hartford.
Those charged are:
- Ruben Torres, a.k.a. “Rube,” “Ru,” and “T,” 25, of Hartford
- Antwane Williams-Bey, a.k.a. “Buck,” 26, of East Windsor
- Michael Chapman, a.k.a. “Nice” and “Mizzo,” 25, of New Britain
- Charles Turner, a.k.a. “Rell” and “CJ,” 26, of Hartford
- Tayrence Willis, a.k.a. “T” and “T-Franklin,” 24, of Hartford
- Tyrryq Rodriguez, a.k.a. “Ty,” “Little Ty” and “Tye Bangs,” 19, of Hartford
- Eric Smith, a.k.a. “Hood,” 29, of Hartford
- Adrian Cruz, a.k.a. “Ray,” 28, of Hartford
- Brendan Salmon, a.k.a. “One Eye,” 23, of Hartford
- Noel Montanez, 18, of Hartford
- Jhovany Valdes, 40, of East Windsor
- Willie Deas, a.k.a. “Debo” and “Flee,” 21, of Hartford
- Marcus Gary, 33, of South Windsor
- Yolanda Lozada, a.k.a. “Sexy,” 38, of East Hartford
- Jamal Johnson, 29, of Hartford
- Buell French, 36, of Hartford
On February 10, investigators arrested Torres, Williams-Bey, Chapman, Willis, Rodriguez, Smith, Salmon, Montanez, and Valdes. From Torres' apartment, police seized 260 bags of heroin, ammunition, a gun cleaning kit and a holster. From Williams-Bey's home, police found 900 bags of heroin and crack cocaine. Agents seized more than 300 grams of heroin and three firearms, one of which was stolen, at Valdes' home, and a firearm and crack cocaine at Chapman's home.
Turner was arrested February 21. Salmon and Lozada were arrested March 1.
Cruz has been in custody since July 31, 2016, and Deas has been in custody since October 28, 2016. Both were originally arrested on state charges.
Gary and Johnson have not yet been arrested.
The indictment charges each of the defendants with conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, heroin and cocaine base, or crack. If convicted, Torres, Williams-Bey, Chapman, and Turner a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life. Valdes, Smith, Cruz, Montanez, Lozada, and Gary face a minimum of five years in prison, and a maximum of 40. Willis, Rodriquez, Salmon, Deas, Johnson, and French face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The charges were announced Wednesday by Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, and Hartford Police Chief James C. Rovella.
“Gang-related drug trafficking continues to plague our inner cities,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “A relatively small number of offenders are responsible for the vast amount of the gun violence that traumatizes our neighborhoods. These same offenders peddle the heroin that has caused the tragic spike in heroin overdose deaths in cities and towns throughout Connecticut. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners have a long-standing commitment to assist the Hartford Police in reducing violent crime and drug trafficking in our capital city. We thank the FBI and the HPD for their tremendous work supporting this prosecution.”
“It’s the continued dedication and commitment of agents and officers in this case that has led to the disruption of street gang activity in this Hartford neighborhood,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “This joint effort in this case, and many others, will lead to a safer community.”
Hiram Cardona, a member of Peace Builders in Hartford, is working hard to diminish the fear found in several youths in the community by mentoring city youngsters.
“Be here with them, let them know that we’re not over them, we’re talking right into their heads. We’re not talking over their heads or talking down to them,” said Cardona who spends time playing basketball or engaging in conversation with several children in order to keep them off the streets.
As far as the incident, Hartford Police and the FBI said the investigation is still ongoing.