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Waterbury Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Federal Prison for Role in Heroin and Fentanyl Trafficking Ring

Leonard C Boyle, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that BRYAN VINALES, also known as “Tiano,” 25, of Waterbury, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a heroin and fentanyl trafficking ring.

According to court documents and statements made in court, an investigation by the DEA New Haven Task Force and the Waterbury Police Department revealed that Nestor Sosa-Ortiz operated a Waterbury-based drug trafficking organization that received large quantities of heroin and fentanyl from suppliers in Connecticut and New York and distributed the narcotics throughout New Haven County.  The organization used an apartment located at 330 Bishop Street in Waterbury to store kilogram-quantities of heroin and fentanyl, and to process and package the drugs for street sale.

On May 18, 2019, Sosa-Ortiz was arrested in New York City on a separate federal heroin and fentanyl trafficking charge.  On that date, law enforcement intercepted a planned drug transaction and seized approximately two kilograms of fentanyl and two kilograms of heroin.  Sosa-Ortiz continued to control his drug network while incarcerated by using smuggled cell phones to communicate with various co-conspirators.

During the investigation, Jeffrey Tavarez was intercepted on calls coordinating the purchase of heroin and fentanyl from both the Sosa-Ortiz organization and from other individuals who sometimes supplied the Sosa-Ortiz organization with narcotics.  Vinales worked with Tavarez to acquire the drugs and then distribute them to their own customers.

Tavarez and several co-defendants were arrested on October 29, 2019.  On that date, investigators executed five search warrants and seized approximately six kilograms of heroin and fentanyl, approximately 100,000 bags of heroin/fentanyl packaged for street distribution, approximately 1,000 fentanyl pills disguised as Percocet pills, one firearm and approximately $50,000 in cash.  Tavarez possessed nearly 40 grams of fentanyl packaged for distribution at the time of his arrest.

Vinales, who was not arrested on October 29, 2019, continued to distribute narcotics after Tavarez’s arrest.  In February 2020, investigators made controlled purchases of approximately 60 grams of fentanyl from Vinales.

Vinales was arrested on July 15, 2020.  On July 23, 2021, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, heroin and fentanyl.

Seventeen individuals were charged as a result of this investigation.  Sosa-Ortiz and Tavarez pleaded guilty.  Sosa-Ortiz awaits sentencing, and Tavarez was sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment.

This investigation has been conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration New Haven Task Force and the Waterbury Police Department.  The DEA New Haven Task Force includes participants from the U.S. Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and the New Haven, Hamden, West Haven, North Haven, Branford, Ansonia, Meriden, Derby, Middletown, Naugatuck and Waterbury Police Departments.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jocelyn Courtney Kaoutzanis and Lauren Clark 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.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

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