Date: March 3, 2021 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Acting United States Attorney Leonard C Boyle, Waterbury State's Attorney Maureen Platt, Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Waterbury Police Chief Fernando C. Spagnolo today announced that 17 individuals have been charged with federal offenses related to the distribution of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine in and around Waterbury. According to statements made in court, for approximately 10 months, the DEA New Haven Task Force and Waterbury Police Department have been investigating a drug trafficking organization that has been distributing large amounts of heroin, cocaine and crack in the Waterbury area. The investigation has included court-authorized wiretaps on multiple phones used by alleged members of the organization, physical surveillance, controlled purchases of narcotics, and motor vehicle stops that resulted in the seizure of drugs. On March 1, 2021, a federal grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment charging the following individuals with conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base ("crack"): Zachary Lee Foster, a.k.a. "Lee," of Waterbury Jason Metz, a.k.a. "Jay," of Naugatuck James Grant, a.k.a. "Bobo," "Bo," and "Jimbo," of Waterbury Derek Metz of Waterbury Jesus Nieves, a.k.a. "Pop," of Waterbury Algeny Paulino, a.k.a. "Chico" and "Lying Queen," of Bronx, New York Eddie Smalls, a.k.a. "Pooch," of Waterbury Sherman Peters, a.k.a. "Red," of Waterbury Latasha Slaughter, a.k.a. "Tasha," of Waterbury Lawrence Jackson of Waterbury Adam Mines, a.k.a. "White Boy," of Waterbury Hector Diaz of Waterbury Lechard Santos of Waterbury Keon Council of Waterbury Rondell Maurice Wright, a.k.a. "Reese," of Waterbury Isaac Wilson, a.k.a. "Ike," of Waterbury Chascity Perez of Waterbury Fifteen defendants were arrested today. Grant has been in state custody since January 21 and Peters is still being sought. In association with today's arrests, law enforcement executed seven search warrants and seized approximately 40,000 bags of suspected heroin, 350 grams of cocaine and 50 grams of crack cocaine. Investigators also seized nine firearms, including an AK-47-style rifle. If convicted of the charge in the indictment, based on the type and quantities of narcotics attributable to each defendant, Foster, Jason Metz, Grant, Derek Metz, Nieves, Paulino and Smalls face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; Peters, Slaughter and Jackson face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years; and Mines, Diaz, Santos, Council, Wright, Wilson and Perez face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. "More Connecticut residents lost their lives to overdoses in 2020 than in any year previously and the U.S. Attorney's Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to using the full force of federal law to investigate and prosecute those responsible for trafficking these deadly drugs," said Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle. "I commend the DEA Task Force members and Waterbury Police for their excellent work during this investigation, and their success in apprehending every charged defendant and seizing a large quantity of narcotics. I also thank the Waterbury State's Attorney's office for its continued partnership in these efforts. All involved have made the community safer and saved lives." "This joint investigation is an example of how things are supposed to be done, and the results speak for themselves," said Waterbury State's Attorney Platt. "The Waterbury State's Attorney's Office will continue to work closely with federal prosecutors on this case, and others." "Illegal drug distribution ravages the very foundations of our families and communities here in Waterbury," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Boyle. "Let these arrests and seizures serve as an example to those who distribute poisons like heroin, crack-cocaine and cocaine, that DEA will aggressively pursue and hold you accountable. This investigation demonstrates the strength and continued commitment of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners here in Connecticut and our solid relationship with the U.S. Attorney's Office." "We are very appreciative for the support from the U.S. Attorney's Office and for our partnership with the DEA to attack drug trafficking in our community," said Chief Spagnolo. "This is the second long-term wiretap investigation the Waterbury Police Department has participated in over the last three years, and we expect to continue to work with federal authorities on these kinds of cases going forward." Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration New Haven Task Force and the Waterbury Police Department. The DEA New Haven Task Force includes participants from the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Marshals Service, and the New Haven, Hamden, West Haven, North Haven, Branford, Ansonia, Meriden, Derby, Middletown, Naugatuck and Waterbury Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick F. Caruso and Brendan Keefe through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.