Springfield man sentenced to 78 months in prison for trafficking heroin

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – DEA New England Division Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle and John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Jonathan Velez, also known as “Jay” and “King Jay,” 26, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 78 months of imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release, for trafficking heroin.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in October 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Hartford Task Force began an investigation of an organization that was trafficking large quantities of heroin, fentanyl and other narcotics in Connecticut and western Massachusetts.  The investigation, which included court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of narcotics and physical surveillance, revealed that members of the organization were receiving bulk quantities of heroin and fentanyl from out-of-state suppliers.  They then stored, processed and packaged the heroin/fentanyl in multiple locations, including apartments located at 280 Collins Street in Hartford where some members of the organization also resided, and then distributed the drug in the Hartford area, and also the Springfield and Holyoke, Massachusetts area.  A significant amount of drug trafficking activity occurred at the Neighborhood Supermarket, located at 316 Farmington Avenue in Hartford.

Fourteen individuals have been charged with various narcotics, firearms and immigration offenses as a result of this investigation.  During the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately 10 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl, much of which was packaged for resale in hundreds of thousands of bags.  Seven firearms were also seized.

Velez was intercepted numerous times on wiretaps discussing narcotics trafficking activity, and in April 2017, investigators made a controlled purchase of heroin from Velez in Springfield.  The investigation also revealed that, although Velez was on Massachusetts state probation and prohibited from traveling outside of Massachusetts, he regularly traveled to Hartford to obtain large quantities of heroin from other members of the organization.  For example, on June 3, 2017, Velez traveled to Hartford to purchase 200 grams of heroin in exchange for $13,000.

The investigation further revealed that the drug trafficking organization was using xylazine, a horse tranquilizer, as an additive to the heroin and fentanyl it distributed.  In June 2017, investigators intercepted a package containing 72 (100 mg) vials of xylazine that had been shipped from Puerto Rico to Velez’s residence.

Velez has been detained since his arrest on June 29, 2017.  On that date, a search of his Springfield residence revealed approximately 116 grams of compressed heroin, numerous wax folds of heroin, and a loaded .38 caliber revolver.

On August 6, 2018, Velez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.  Velez’s criminal history includes multiple criminal convictions, including three prior convictions for felony narcotics offenses.

The DEA’s Hartford Task Force includes personnel from the DEA Hartford Resident Office and the Bristol, Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield, Windsor Locks and Willimantic Police Departments.  Agencies assisting the investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Connecticut State Police.

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

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