Feds: Drugs sold out of local grocery stores by Hartford-area trafficking ring

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Feds: Drugs sold out of local grocery stores by Hartford-area trafficking ring


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Originally posted on
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Four men were taken into custody Tuesday on a criminal complaint in connection with a drug trafficking ring that operated out of grocery stores in the Hartford area, according to federal prosecutors.

Rey “Rueben” Urena, 21, of Waterbury; Yan Ryes, 34, a citizen of the Dominican Republic living in Hartford; Ramon Vargas, 20, of Hartford; and Jose Lora, 27, of Hartford were each charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, controlled substances, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Reyes, Vargas and Lora were each also charged with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, controlled substances.

All four individuals remain in custody.

Court documents alleged that authorities with the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and the FBI Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force were investigating the sale of oxycodone pills, counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, and other drugs from neighborhood grocery stores in New Britain and Hartford, prosecutors said.

From January 2020 to March of this year, authorities said that investigators made several controlled purchases of illegal pills at the Washington Market at 453 Washington St. in Hartford, which is now permanently closed. Prosecutors said additional transactions were made at JZX Tobacco at 25 New Britain Ave. in Hartford and Prestige Market at 23 New Britain Ave. in Hartford.

Authorities said Urena “supervised the illegal enterprise,” while Reyes and Vargas sold pills from JZ Tobacco and Prestige Market, and Lora served as a runner and lookout.

On Dec. 20, 2020, investigators stopped a vehicle registered to Urena and found about 4,000 oxycodone pills and $51,000 in cash in a hidden compartment beneath the front passenger seat, prosecutors said.

With Tuesday’s arrests, investigators also served several search warrants.

During a search of a Colonial Street apartment in Hartford that authorities said was used by the drug trafficking ring, investigators found one kilogram of suspected cocaine, one kilogram of suspected fentanyl or heroin, more than 5,000 real and counterfeit oxycodone pills, 2,000 Xanax pills, items used to process and package drugs and two guns.

When investigators searched Urena’s home in Waterbury, prosecutors said $54,000 was found.