Former C.T. man involved in illegal pill smuggling jailed

A former Connecticut man involved in an illegal pill trafficking ring has been sentenced to five years in prison, according to federal authorities.

According to federal authorities, Johnatan Fernandez-Lopez, 37, a citizen of the Dominican Republic who previously lived in Hartford, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Underhill in Bridgeport for his role in a drug trafficking organization that “distributed oxycodone pills, counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl, and other drugs in the Hartford area.”

Citing court documents and statements made in court, authorities said the case arose from a joint investigation by the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and the FBI Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force that targeted individuals who were distributing oxycodone pills, counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl, and other drugs from neighborhood grocery stores in New Britain and Hartford.

Authorities said that between January 2020 and March 2021, investigators made multiple controlled buys of illegal pills at three businesses in Hartford. “Fernandez-Lopez was the primary seller of pills at JZ Tobacco during the evening hours, and was in possession of a firearm in connection with the crime,” authorities said in a statement.

Then, on December 20, 2020, “investigators stopped a vehicle registered to Fernandez-Lopez’s co-defendant Ray Urena and found approximately 4,000 illegal pills and $51,000 in cash in a hidden ‘trap’ underneath the car’s front passenger seat.”

Ureña and the others were arrested on May 18, 2021, and when an apartment in Hartford that was “used by the drug trafficking organization,” and two vehicles parked outside the stash house were searched, authorities said what was found included: “approximately two kilograms of fentanyl, approximately 170 grams of heroin, over 5,000 real and counterfeit oxycodone pills, approximately 2,000 Xanax pills, approximately one kilogram of cocaine, approximately 100 grams of crack, items used to process and package narcotics, two handguns, and ammunition.”

In addition, a search of Urena's home in Waterbury turned up approximately $54,000.

Fernandez-Lopez has been in custody since his arrest and pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, authorities said. He will face immigration proceedings after he completes his prison sentence.

Urena pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, authorities said.

The DEA's New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad is comprised of personnel from the DEA and the Bristol, East Windsor, Hamden, New Britain, West Haven, Newington, Manchester, Glastonbury and Watertown police departments. The FBI Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force is comprised of members from the Hartford, East Hartford, New Britain and West Hartford police departments, the Connecticut State Police and the Connecticut Department of Correction.

Leave a Comment

“The Untold Story: Yung Miami’s Response to Jimmy Butler’s Advances During an NBA Playoff Game” “Unveiling the Secrets: 15 Astonishing Facts About the PGA Championship”