Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that six men pleaded guilty on January 6 in New Haven federal court to heroin distribution offenses.
The defendants were arrested in April 2013 as part of a Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) and New London Police Department-led investigation into the large-scale trafficking of heroin and cocaine from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico into and around southeastern Connecticut.
Edwin Cepeda, 34, of Groton was one of the ring to plead guilty.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Luis Ariel Capellan Maldonado, also known as “Ariel,” regularly procured multi-kilogram quantities of heroin from the Dominican Republic and worked with several individuals to distribute the drug in southeastern Connecticut.
Operating out of his apartment building on Hawthorne Drive in New London, Capellan Maldonado supplied customers with raw heroin, often in quantities of 50 to 150 grams. He also had access to kilogram quantities of cocaine and sometimes supplied cocaine to wholesale cocaine distributors in New London.
The investigation revealed that Capellan Maldonado coordinated the shipment of heroin, and sometimes cocaine, via human couriers from the Dominican Republic to the United States. He also obtained heroin from other sources in New York City and Rhode Island.Capellan Maldonado, 27, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty on November 6, 2013, and awaits sentencing. The following six individuals pleaded guilty to heroin conspiracy charges:
- Miguel Morales, also known as “Neow,” 49, of New London,
- Jose Morales, 53, of New London,
- Lester Fantauzzi, 47, of Niantic,
- Emmanuel Blanco Balbuena, 29, of New London,
- Jose Reynosa-Monegro, also known as “Culito,” 44, of New York, N.Y.,
- Edwin Cepeda, 34, of Groton
This matter is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine; Connecticut State Police; New London Police Department, Norwich Police Department, Waterford Police Department, Groton Town Police Department, East Lyme Police Department and Putnam Police Department. The United States Marshals Service; ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations; Drug Enforcement Administration; HSI Assistant Attaché, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; HSI Arecibo, Puerto Rico Resident Office; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; Connecticut Department of Correction, Parole and Community Services; and the Groton City, Willimantic, New Haven and Bristol Police Departments have provided valuable assistance to the investigation.
The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alina P. Reynolds, Sarah P. Karwan and Henry K. Kopel. The state cases are being prosecuted by the State’s Attorney for the New London Judicial District and Senior Assistant State’s Attorneys Paul Narducci and Stephen Carney.