Dominican national involved in New Haven drug ring sentenced to 10 years in federal prison


Date: October 13, 2022


Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Neftali Fernandez, a citizen of the Dominican Republic last residing in the Bronx, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 120 months of imprisonment for trafficking cocaine.

This matter stems from a joint investigation headed by the DEA New Haven Task Force, FBI and New Haven Police Department that included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of heroin and cocaine, and seizures of bulk heroin and cocaine. The investigation revealed that Duane Filyaw, of New Haven, operated a heroin and cocaine trafficking ring in which he conspired with others to purchase narcotics from suppliers and then distribute the drugs to other suppliers of street-level dealers in and around New Haven. Fernandez worked with his associate, Gabriel Romero Escalera-Romero, to supply Filyaw and others with bulk quantities of cocaine.

During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized more than 500 grams of heroin, more than 300 grams of fentanyl, more than one kilogram of cocaine, three firearms, over $90,000 in cash, vehicles, jewelry and precious metals.

On April 19, 2018, a grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment charging Fernandez, Escalera-Romero, Filyaw and 16 other individuals with narcotics trafficking offenses.

Fernandez and several other members of the conspiracy were arrested on April 25, 2018. Fernandez possessed a firearm on the date of his arrest.

Fernandez has been detained since his arrest. In February 2020, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Fernandez faces deportation proceedings when he completes his prison term.

Filyaw and Escalera-Romero have pleaded guilty. On May 26, 2020, he was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment. Filyaw awaits sentencing.

The DEA New Haven Task Force includes personnel from the DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the New Haven, Hamden, West Haven, North Haven, Branford, Ansonia, Meriden, Derby, Middletown, Naugatuck and Waterbury Police Departments. The Connecticut Department of Correction, Milford Police Department and East Haven Police Department have assisted the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick F. Caruso 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.