Seven charged with trafficking heroin and crack in New Haven


Date: September 21, 2020


An indictment charging seven individuals with New Haven-area narcotics trafficking and related offenses has been unsealed.

On September 9, 2020, a federal grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment charging the following individuals with conspiring to distribute heroin and crack cocaine:

  • Michael Smith, also known as "Head," of New Haven
  • Keilah Boria, of New Haven
  • Ernest Holcomb, also known as "Ern," of North Branford
  • Jonathan Duarte, of New Haven
  • Chawn Battle, of New Haven
  • Alex Reyes, of New Haven
  • Alexis Viera, of New Haven

As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, in 2019, the DEA New Haven Task Force began an investigation into a New Haven-based drug trafficking network headed by Michael Smith. The investigation revealed that Smith, Duarte, Reyes and Holcomb were distributing heroin and crack cocaine throughout the New Haven area. During the investigation, Viera was identified as a supplier of crack to Smith's organization, and Battle was identified as customer who bought heroin from the organization and sold the drug to his own customers. The investigation also revealed that Boria maintained bank accounts that Smith used to launder the cash proceeds of his drug trafficking activity, and that Smith spent some of the drug proceeds to pay for rental cars that he used to transport narcotics, and to travel to meet his drug customers.

It is further alleged that on December 19, 2019, Smith possessed a firearm and used the firearm in a drug-related shooting.

If convicted of conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine base ("crack"), based on the type and quantity of drug attributable to each defendant, Smith, Boria and Duarte face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years, and Holcomb, Battle, Reyes and Viera face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

The indictment also charges Smith with one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of heroin, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to, and in furtherance of, a drug trafficking crime, an offense that carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of at least 10 years.

The indictment also charges Smith and Boria with one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

Smith has been detained since his arrest on state charges on December 23, 2019. The other six defendants were arrested on September 16, 2020, after the indictment was returned.

Smith, Duarte, Battle and Viera are detained, and Boria, Holcomb and Reyes are released pending trial.

U.S. Attorney Durham noted 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 Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the DEA New Haven Task Force, and the New Haven, West Haven, Hamden, East Haven, North Haven, Ansonia, Meriden and Derby Police Departments.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys H. Gordon Hall and John T. Pierpont, Jr.