Hartford, Connecticut has been in the news recently as a prominent gang leader and drug dealer was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The defendant was Wilson “Wiso” Velez, age 35. The charges happened after Velez started a serious gunfight on Franklin Avenue in Hartford. The gunfight caused three men to need treatment in a local hospital. Velez pled guilty to drug and firearm charges and drug charges after the gunfight.
Velez is a Prominent Drug Dealer and Gang Leader
Velez ran the Latin King gang in Hartford. He was the organization’s regional officer in Connecticut, meaning he was the highest-ranking leader in the state. The FBI worked with local Hartford detectives in a sting operation. They planted informers who would buy guns as well as large amounts of fentanyl and heroin. The sting operation happened mainly on Hamilton Street and Elliot Street in Hartford. Velez ran a clothing store and a construction business and was a husband and father of three children who lived in Newington.
One of Velez’s Drug Dealers Also Faces Charges
An informant who worked with the FBI and local investors engaged in several drug deals with Frankie “Lips” Vega, also age 35. One of the drug deals in the sting operation was for 400 bags of fentanyl and another drug deal was for 290 bags of fentanyl. When investigators inspected Velez’s apartment, they found hundreds of bags of fentanyl. Many of these bags had the same name stamped on the bags as the bags sold by Vega.
Vega pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute and distribution of heroin and fentanyl, according to the federal U.S. Attorney’s office. During the bust, Vega was one of 10 members of the Latin King members who were named. An FBI task force initially arrested Vega in 2017 for drug dealing by Latin Kings on Broad Street in Hartford.
The Gun Fight That Led to the Arrest of Velez
The gunfight happened three years ago, and tensions between the Latin Kings and their rival gangs have been long standing. According to federal prosecutors, Velez started a gunfight in April 2017. Four other members of the Latin Kings decided to chase away two other drug dealers who they accused of being in their territory. The two members they chased away had set up their drug dealing business near Barker Street and Franklin Avenue.
A fistfight occurred after the two other gangsters resisted leaving the territory. The two rival gang members shot members of Velez’s team in the legs and Velez’s main enforcer was hit multiple times with gunshots. The man was hospitalized after going into a coma for months but he eventually survived.
Six months after the gunfight, law enforcement arrested Velez. He was released on a bond after he totally renounced the Latin Kings. Once he was released, he went back to leading the gang and dealing drugs. Law enforcement arrested him not long after he got back into gang activity. Other members of the Latin Kings have been indicted since 2018 as part of the massive sting operation.
Possession With the Intent to Distribute in Connecticut
Under Connecticut law, any person in possession of any controlled substance who law enforcement officials think intends to sell those drugs can face charges for possession with intent to distribute. Even if law enforcement does not catch someone in the act of selling the drugs, a person can still face charges under this law.
In the cases mentioned above, law enforcement officers found large quantities of drugs in the suspects’ possession, leading them to charge the defendants with a distribution crime. The crime of possession with the intent to distribute is more serious than a simple drug possession charge in Connecticut. Prosecutors often use the following factors to prove that the defendant was intending to sell drugs:
- The way in which the drugs are packaged
- The manufacturing equipment or packaging equipment in your possession
- The volume of drugs in your possession
Controlled Substances in Connecticut
The penalties faced by a suspect depend on the quantity of drugs as well as how the drugs are classified under Connecticut law. Like most other states, Connecticut categorizes drugs into different classes or categories. Class A substances are the most dangerous and most likely to lead to addiction, including Heroin, Morphine, Ketamine, or “Special K,” and GHB.
Class B substances include cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, PCP, meth, and popular prescription drugs such as Percodan and Percocet. Class E controlled substances are the least dangerous substances and include morphine, certain opiates, and prescription drugs with a small amount of Codeine.
Drug Possession Charges in Connecticut
Anyone who is found in possession of a controlled substance will likely face criminal charges. If you are found with a high volume of a controlled substance, you may face charges for possession with the intent to distribute. If the amount of the drug you are found with does not meet those standards, you will likely face drug possession charges. If you are caught carrying half an ounce or less of cannabis, for example, you will only be charged with an infraction that comes with a $150 fine.
If you are charged with subsequent crimes, you will face larger charges and a possible driver’s license suspension. Drug possession charges in Connecticut are incredibly serious. They can have a massive impact on your life, including a loss of employment and education. Even though the consequences are not as serious as possession with intent to distribute charges, you should still take them seriously.
Contact Our Connecticut Drug Charges Lawyers Today
If you have been charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, you are facing serious penalties. If your charge involved heroin, meth, or cocaine, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence between five and 20 years and up to life imprisonment. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact the Red Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.