Drug Ring Bust Nabs 19

from a press release:


19 charged in federal court with distributing cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; Harry W. Rilling, Chief of the Norwalk Police Department; and Robert Nivakoff, Chief of the Stamford Police Department, today announced that 19 individuals have been arrested on various federal narcotics-distribution charges related to the large-scale distribution of cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin in southwestern Connecticut and New York City.

Yesterday, a federal grand jury in New Haven returned an indictment charging 18 of the defendants. An additional defendant was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint.

The charges stem from an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed “Operation Hammertime,” a four-month investigation that was initiated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with substantial assistance provided by the Norwalk Police Department’s Special Services Squad and the Stamford Police Department’s Narcotics and Organized Crime Squad. The investigation was funded in significant part through the United States Attorney’s Office OCDETF and Anti-Gang initiatives, and the case is being prosecuted by members of the United States Attorney’s Office OCDETF and Gang Units.

According to statements made in today in Bridgeport federal court during the initial presentment of many of the defendants, the investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps. Through the wiretaps, investigating officers identified and dismantled a large drug-trafficking organization allegedly headed by GAVIN HAMMETT.

In association with the arrest of the defendants, law enforcement officers seized more than one kilo of cocaine, more than 200 grams of crack cocaine, multiple bundles of heroin, more than $100,000 in cash, seven vehicles and one firearm.

Charged in the indictments with various counts related to the distribution of narcotics are the following individuals:

GAVIN HAMMETT, a.k.a. “G,” 45, of Ely Ave., Norwalk;

WAYNE BEST, a.k.a. “RAUL” and “ROMEL,” 43, of San Vincenzo, Norwalk;

WILBERT BROWN, a.k.a. “Hat,” 58, of S. Main St., Norwalk;

TRACEY DOWNING, a.k.a. “B.M.,” 41, of Burritt Ave., Norwalk;

DARRYL FILES, 42, of Leon Pl., Stamford;

FRANK GREEN, SR., a.k.a. “Sparks,” 45, of Amelia Pl., Stamford;

MICHAEL HAMMETT, a.k.a. “Tyree,” 29, of Lawn Ave., Stamford;

CHARLES HANDY, a.k.a. “Paco” and “Chumley,” 43, Stamford;

LORENZO JONES, a.k.a. “Bubba Bean,” 46, of Ludlow St., Stamford;

TERRENCE McNICHOL, a.k.a. “Peanut,” 35, of Clinton St., Bridgeport;

ANDRE MESSAM, a.k.a. “Dre,” 35, of Orchard St., Norwalk;

MARK SAMAS, 38, 104 Hansen St., Bridgeport;

ROBERT SINGLETON, a.k.a. “Pimp,” 56, of N. Main St., Norwalk;

JOE SMALLS, a.k.a. “Izzy,” 37, of Claremore Ct., Norwalk;

ROBERT TREGLIA, 46, of N. Taylor Ave., Norwalk;

JOSEPH VANBRACKLE, a.k.a. “Pops,” 74, of Lawn Ave., Stamford;

MASSIEL VARGAS, a.k.a. “Juicy,” 39, of Ely Ave., Norwalk; and

LUIS LNU (last name unknown), a.k.a. “Antonio Herrera-Robles,” of Eastburn Ave., Bronx, NY.

HAMMETT and VARGAS are charged with conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”). If convicted of this charge, each faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $4 million. FILES, GREEN, and HANDY are charged with conspiring to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base. If convicted of this charge, each of these defendants faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum term of 40 years, and a fine of up to $2 million. The filing of a second-offender notice under the federal statute for having a prior felony drug conviction would double the mandatory minimum penalties.

HAMMETT, BROWN, McNICHOL, VARGAS, and LUIS LNU are charged with conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of powder cocaine. If convicted of this charge, they face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum term of 40 years, and a fine of up to $2 million. The filing of a second-offender notice under the federal statute for having a prior felony drug conviction would double the mandatory-minimum penalties.

BEST, DOWNING, MICHAEL HAMMETT, JONES, SAMAS, SINGLETON, SMALLS, TREGLIA, and VANBRACKLE are charged with conspiring to distribute a quantity of cocaine. LUIS LNU and MESSAM are charged with conspiring to distribute a quantity of heroin. If convicted of these charges, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

In addition, JERRY LIVINGSTON, 48, from Norwalk, was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiring to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base and 500 grams or more of powder cocaine.

U.S. Attorney Fein commended the federal and local law enforcement agents and officers who conducted this collaborative investigation.

“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners in Norwalk and Stamford to combat drug trafficking and related activity in order to improve the quality of life in our communities,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein.

“DEA and our law enforcement partners are determined to keep our cities free of the misery that drugs bring to the community,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Derr. “We believe that, as a result of this joint law enforcement action, these neighborhoods are safer today.”

“The Norwalk Police Department is grateful to our federal partners from the DEA and our partners from the Stamford PD,” stated Norwalk Police Chief Rilling. “These high level joint operations are very effective in removing the criminal element from our communities. Norwalk will certainly be a safer place as a result of this operation.”

“The coordinated and tactical efforts of the City of Stamford PD and our law enforcement partners have maximized the impact of regional narcotic distribution investigations,” stated Stamford Police Chief Nivakoff.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that the charges are not evidence of guilt. The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s DEA’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force (composed of members of the Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk and Stratford Police Departments, and the Connecticut State Police), along with substantial participation by members of the Norwalk and Stamford Police Departments. The United States Marshals Service and the Bridgeport Police Department assisted in the arrests of the defendants today.

The federal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Spector and Hal Chen.


  1. YES !!

    Huge tip of the hat here to the feds and yes the locals.

    A sincere thanks goes out to all involved.

    But, yes, there is always a but, but that was only a street level operation guys.

    No small feat but boy it would be a big help if we addressed the money men and the conditions that prepetuate the drugs and violence.

    Just once, just once it would be great to see just one big bad guy go down. Just one.

    But alas this is not oz and there is no such thing as a happy endings.

    All we have to do is gaze a mere thousand miles south and we can see and smell the lesson we must learn, Take out 100 and a thousand take their place.

    Cleaning up the streets is good, very good. But the systemic issues remain and will worsen till we really get serious and understand narcotics is a national security threat and a new strategy must be explored and implemented.

    We have to find ways to give people hope, direction and options, if we don’t this human experiment we call America is doomed to implode on itself.

    You the reader may say, “Well, heck, thats all above my paygrade, what can I really do to make it better?

    Well paying attention and informing yourself is where it starts.

    Helping someone with no motive for profit or self gratification is another.

    The Gates and Buffett are calling everyone out, now is the time.

    That includes all of us. They are correct. Now, IS, the time.

    They are are part of an exclusive club and they just opened the door to make it inclusive to all.

    What will you do to help your fellow human being today?

    And if you want crack or herion keep on moving, Norwalk has hung out the NO SALE sign.

    Yeah you might say, been there done that, it doesn’t work looks at the Burden brothers era.

    But folks are hurting and really stressed and easy obtainable and cheap crack is a powerfull magnent for deparate and despondent individual to bite that apple for that brief moment to escape reality.

    But with that pipe comes insanity and ultimately violence.

    Crack and meth are tearing our countrys fabric to shreds.

    Crosses all socio, cultural and economic lines.

    We have to educate and provide incentives, hope, develop a national policy on addiction treatment and locking up some of those guys that never ever ever get the hammer.

    Today, lets all pay it forward, even though you have the right of way, wave to your fellow motorist today let him or her go ahead. Surprise someone and do somthing sweet for someone. A complete stranger is the best. Like yawning being nice is contagious. Pass it on.

    Some instances have been occuring more frequently of folks paying for the guys coffee behind him in the drive through and everyone following suit. It does work. People do care and want to help eachother we just dont know how.

    Maybe that could be a thread, what can you do to brighten somones life?

    It will get better, but only when we make it better.

    • Secondhand Rose

      It all sounds great, on paper. Let’s hear what you’re doing to “pay it forward”. Maybe someone out there could use some direction, instead of just reading a couple of old cliches.

      • Umpire

        Rose, rest assured hun, I have put some points up on that scoreboard.
        I would like to invite you to join the conversation. Your absolutely correct, catch phrase’s are cute but they’re not solid ideas to explore.

        The idea here is not just to critique with intent to disrupt or distract. The seed here is to involve everyone in finding and implementing solutions.

        There was a suggestion about being courteous, ok thats a solid concrete idea to explore, is it not?

        I sincerely invite you to join the conversation and give us your ideas.

        That holds true for all.

        Thats the whole concept.

        I think its a pretty good idea myself and looking around the timing is spot on.

        It’s not totally a Pay It Forward deal, more like, “whats your idea, is that doable”? It’s about harnessing the enormuous energy and brain power resources thats, can we say,”untapped?”

        The true American spirit and ingenuity.

        Its about coommunicating.

        Its about not just bitching about the issues or individuals but working together and resolving the issues.

        In our lifetime.

        There is a time and a place to critique.

        The time now is to find ideas and ultimately solutions.

        Rose you have contributed allot, no doubt and you are keeping yourself up to speed and involved, thats to be applauded and encouraged.

        So with that perspective, what is your idea?

        What kind of world, community, can you envision?

        Lets get serious and hear ideas from everyone.

        Plenty of opinions, Rose is correct, what we are in dire short supply of, is ideas.

        So the challenge has been given.

        What are your ideas?

        Folks are listening?

  2. Persona non grata

    How about starting with our President? and then his cronies? and then people like Al Shartpton who think it’s in the best interest of our country to protest the AZ immigration law. Who also think that restricting border flow is racist. If we could finally control our borders we could eliminate the flow of drugs from our south American neighbors!


    Interesting reaction to drug bust story. Sounds like somebody who knows something about the business. Illegal drugs is BIG business and the guys who make the big money live in very nice homes in the best neighborhoods and never touch the product. That makes it very hard to make a case against them, but it sometimes happens. The DEA and the FBI are sometimes able to get an undercover officer deep enough into an operation to get evidence against the top guys, but it takes years and lots of money, and, a very special undercover officer. It can be an extremely dangerous assignment.
    The street level dealers never are allowed to know who the big money people are, so they are not much help to the police when they get arrested. The police and the feds probably know who the big money guys are but can’t get enough evidence to grab them. Remember the top bad guy in the “French Connection” case was never caught and was believed to be living in Connecticut years later.

    • Secondhand Rose

      OT, I think you have been drinking far too much “just say no” Kool-aid, because you honestly don’t have Clue One about how the drug chain really works.

  4. Just One

    Agreed its a substantial challenge with current evidence and access laws.

    But it is very doable.

    And there is progress, OT.

    The islands are getting smaller and their numbers are finite.

    The Swiss have finally broken open that vault.

    All you bad guys, sooner or later…

    What comes around…..

    You can bank on that.

    Be sure to thank Maddoff and Standford in the chow line.

    I often wonder…. gazes at Greenwich.


    No Kool Aid for me. In order to maintain some anonymity, I will not explain the basis of my knowledge of the drug business, or organized crime generally, but you are mistaken. Anyplace there are enormous profits, you will find organized crime and very wealthy men sitting at the top of an organizational pyramid. Look up some of the names yourself. Google has pages and pages of information on organized crime. Don’t ever let anyone tell you it is limited to big Cities. The top guys are known to their local communities as wealthy businessmen who are very generous to charity. Read whatever you can find about James Galante from Danbury and you will understand how we are all supporting people like him.

  6. Secondhand Rose

    Galante? Oh yes, I believe we supported him every time we took out the garbage.

    However, you’re missing the point about drug dealing. Having known plenty of both users and sellers in my youth, I can assure you that people buy from their friends and they sell to their friends. 99.99% of these people have no idea where their pounds and ounces come from, other than their bud from the bar or the guy their cousin knows. And 99.99% of these people could not care less either.

    “Organized crime” may be what brings the drugs into this country in the first place, but believe you me, they have absolutely nothing to do with street-level buying and selling. That, my friend, is a fine example of “trickle-down economy” at its best. It’s all done from friends of friends of friends, through coworkers and relatives and the guy down the street to the kid in the back row in high school or the guy on the corner in the projects. And if you don’t know that, you don’t understand how the drug trade REALLY works.


    I am not getting into a debate. You seem to believe exactly what the top guys want you to. Illegal drugs are bought and sold in a very informal market transaction and the Guys like Matty “the horse” Iannello have nothing to do with it. The money that gets back to them while people much lower in the organization are taking the risks does not make them drug dealers. They are venture capitalists who finance major import schemes, for a big profit, and then get more kicked back as the product filters down through the distribution network. They don’t know the street dealers, and the street dealers, and his customers, don’t know the venture capitalists. Some of these guys get schools and college buildings named after them and never, ever, touch the product.

  8. Got a good chuckle outta this

    Cocaine is so “1980s”! I find it hard to believe that anybody uses that junk any longer. What a bunch of maroons.