The drug enforcement administration in Connecticut arrested more than a dozen people and seized seven kilos of cocaine on Wednesday.
Arrests were made in New Britain, Middletown and Meriden, in addition to a stash house, a location where drug dealers keep their supply and/or money, on West Boulevard in Hartford, according to federal agents.
Half a dozen arrested on Wednesday are alleged members of the Latin Kings gang, while another arrestee is a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service (USPS), according to federal agents.
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Steven Riccelli, 42, of Unionville, has worked for the postal service for 19 years and is currently a letter carrier at the Farmington Post Office. Riccelli remains on the record as an employee, according to Maureen Marion and Christine Dugas with the USPS.
The U.S. government said Riccelli was using his position as a postal employee to receive packages from Puerto Rico and that he would allegedly provide addresses to other suspects in order to send drugs.
Riccelli, federal agents believe, would take the packages off his postal route and hand deliver them to some of the other suspects involved.
Riccelli's attorney, Charles Kurmay, would not comment to NBC Connecticut after his client pleaded not guilty to federal drug charges.
"There is indication he had a job as of this morning. He probably does not have a job as of now. Apparently, he worked for the postal service, I don't think he'll continue to be employed," Kurmay told the court.
Eight others pleaded not guilty in federal court this afternoon, including:
- Omar Rivera, 34 of New Britain
- Turon Davis, 38, of Middletown
- Derrick Bryant, 26, of Middletown
- Luis Arroyo, 56, of New Britain
- Lisette Perez, 34, of Springfield, Massachusetts
- Orlando Quiros, 40, of Suffield
- Leonel Quiros, 33, of New Britain
- Corey Best, 32, of Bloomfield
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Hall, who was at the federal court arraignments on Wednesday, the defendants were named and charged in an indictment by a grand jury last week.
Charges from count one of the indictment include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
Hall told the court that defendants Luis Arroyo, Lisette Perez, Orlando Quiros, Leonel Quiros and Corey Best, are alleged to individually also be responsible for at least five kilos of cocaine.
Orlando Quiros, Leonel Quiros and Corey Best also face charges of attempting to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, according to the prosecutor in court. Quiros is also charged with use of a facility of interstate commerce to use the proceeds of drug trafficking.
NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters requested to speak with all but one of the suspects' attorneys after court. All of those requested to talk to NBC Connecticut declined comment.
Family members of several suspects also chose not to respond to inquiries from the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.
Several other suspects appeared before the federal judge as well. NBC Connecticut is working to get their names and the charges against them.
If convicted, the charges carries penalties to include five or ten years behind bars to life sentences and five and ten million dollar fines.