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6 involved in Conn. narcotics distribution ring plead guilty

NEW LONDON, Conn — Six men pleaded guilty Tuesday in New Haven federal court to heroin distribution offenses. The defendants were arrested in April 2013 as part of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and New London Police Department-led investigation into a large-scale heroin and cocaine trafficking ring that stemmed from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to Connecticut.

According to the investigation, Luis Ariel Capellan Maldonado, 27, regularly procured multi-kilogram quantities of heroin from the Dominican Republic and worked with several individuals to distribute drugs in southeastern Connecticut. Operating out of his apartment building on Hawthorne Drive in New London, Capellan Maldonado supplied customers with raw heroin, often in quantities of 50 to 150 grams. He also had access to larger kilogram quantities of cocaine and sometimes supplied cocaine to wholesale cocaine distributors in New London.

The investigation revealed that Capellan Maldonado coordinated the shipment of heroin, and sometimes cocaine, via human couriers from the Dominican Republic to the United States. He also obtained heroin from other sources in New York and Rhode Island.

Capellan Maldonado, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty Nov. 6 and awaits sentencing.

Six individuals pleaded guilty Tuesday to heroin conspiracy charges:

  • Miguel Morales, aka "Neow," 49, of New London,
  • Jose Morales, 53, of New London,
  • Lester Fantauzzi, 47, of Niantic,
  • Emmanuel Blanco Balbuena, 29, of New London,
  • Jose Reynoso-Monegro, aka "Culito," 44, of New York,
  • Edwin Cepeda, 34, of Groton.

More than 100 individuals have been charged with federal and state offenses as a result of this investigation. To date, 26 of the 49 defendants charged with federal offenses have pleaded guilty.

The following agencies assisted in the investigation: U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine; Connecticut State Police; U.S. Marshals Service; ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; HSI offices in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico; Internal Revenue Services - Criminal Investigation; the Connecticut Department of Correction's Parole and Community Services; and the Norwich, Waterford, Groton Town, Groton City, East Putnam, Lyme, Willimantic, New Haven and Bristol Police Departments.