Four arrested after DEA-led investigation into Waterbury drug trafficking ring


Date: April 14, 2023


United States Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery, 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 the following four individuals were arrested yesterday on federal criminal complaints charging each with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and cocaine base ("crack"):

  • Gawayne Fisher, a.k.a. "Fruit" and "Tank," of Waterbury
  • Terry Collins of Bristol
  • David Hing, a.k.a. "LA," of Waterbury
  • Derrick Pruden, a.k.a. "DP," of Waterbury

As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, for approximately nine months, the DEA New Haven Task Force, the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, the Waterbury Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies have been conducting an investigation into drug trafficking in and around the city of Waterbury by Fisher and his associates. The investigation, which has included court-authorized wiretaps on multiple phones, physical surveillance, and controlled purchases of narcotics, revealed that Fisher received heroin/fentanyl from Collins, and fentanyl/heroin and cocaine from other suppliers. He then distributed the narcotics to other drug sellers, including Hing and Pruden.

It is also alleged that Fisher used an apartment at 1015 West Main Street in Waterbury to store narcotics, and that Collins used a residence at 109 Yale Street in Waterbury as a "heroin mill," where he and others stored narcotics and processed and packaged narcotics for distribution.

On April 13, 2023, in association with the arrests of the four defendants, agents and officers from the DEA, FBI, Connecticut State Police, and Waterbury, Naugatuck, Bristol and East Haven police departments, executed multiple federal and state search warrants that resulted in the seizure of drugs and cash proceeds (photos attached). A search of the apartment at 1015 West Main Street revealed an estimated 16 kilograms of cocaine, three kilograms of fentanyl, and an estimated 125,000 individual glassine bags containing a substance that field tested positive as fentanyl. A search of 109 Yale Street in Waterbury revealed drug-processing equipment, an estimated three kilograms of loose fentanyl, and an estimated 75,000 individual glassine bags containing a substance that field tested positive as fentanyl. In addition, a search of Fisher's residence on Beverly Avenue in Waterbury revealed approximately $150,000 in cash.

"As fentanyl addiction continues to cause so much misery in our state and around the country, we are determined to interrupt the flow of this deadly drug, seize drug proceeds, and prosecute those involved to the full extent of the law," said U.S. Attorney Avery. "It is alleged that these defendants flooded the Waterbury area with fentanyl and other drugs, and yesterday's seizures represent one of the largest we have seen in Connecticut to date. I thank the DEA, Waterbury Police and our many partner law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation for their tireless efforts in taking these drugs off the street. Their work is saving lives."

"Illegal drug distribution ravages the very foundations of our families and communities here in Connecticut," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. "Let these arrests and seizures serve as an example and be a warning to those who distribute poisons like fentanyl, heroin and cocaine, that DEA will aggressively and actively 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."

"Our partnership with the DEA and the U.S. Attorney's Office continues to thwart drug trafficking in Waterbury," said Chief Spagnolo. "We look forward to continuing this important work with our federal partners to remove these drugs, and those involved in distributing it, from our community."

Following their arrests, Fisher, Collins, Hing and Pruden appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria E. Garcia in New Haven. Fisher, Hing, and Pruden were ordered detained, and Collins was released on a $100,000 bond.

U.S. Attorney Avery stressed that a complaint is only a charge and 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 DEA New Haven Task Force, the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, and the Waterbury Police Department, with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Connecticut State Police, and the New Haven, Naugatuck, Ansonia, West Haven, Meriden, East Haven, Branford, Shelton, and Bristol Police Departments.

The DEA New Haven Task Force includes participants from the DEA, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Marshals Service, Connecticut State Police and the New Haven, Waterbury, East Haven, Branford, West Haven, Ansonia, Meriden, Naugatuck, and Shelton Police Departments. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad is composed of personnel from the DEA and the Manchester, Glastonbury, West Haven, Hamden, Newington, and Bristol Police Departments.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Caruso, Natasha Freismuth, and Daniel Cummings 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.