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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alleged drug ring busted

By William Kaempffer
Register Staff
Alleged members of a New Haven drug trafficking organization busted by the FBI may have been behind a Jan. 4 shooting of a rival in West Haven, authorities said.
The U.S. attorney’s office Wednesday announced that a federal grand jury indicted eight people in connection with a drug ring that sold cocaine, crack and heroin in and around New Haven.
Seven of those people already are in custody, but the alleged ringleader, identified as Nelson "Nellie Rock" Rodriguez, 29, of Elm Street, East Haven, remains at large.
Most court documents remain sealed, so few details were available about the operation or the 10-month probe by an FBI task force. But a recent detention hearing for one of the defendants revealed a propensity for violence.
When Alexy Laureano, 28, of Claudia Drive, West Haven, went to court to try to get bail, authorities revealed that Rodriguez and one or more associates allegedly initiated and directed a shooting in West Haven.
The injuries were not life- threatening and West Haven police said no one has been charged yet in that incident.
The indictment was handed up Jan. 23, but remained sealed until Monday.
According to federal authorities, the drug charges stem from a 10-month investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force into a narcotics trafficking organization led by Rodriguez.
The investigation included the use of confidential informants, controlled purchases of drugs and court-authorized wiretaps.
Those arrested as of Wednesday were Laureano, Venus Rodriguez, 33, of Blake Street; Salvador Baez, 31, the brother of Nelson Rodriguez, of Palmieri Avenue; Ernesto Martinez, 22, Nelson Rodriguez’s cousin, of Exchange Street; and Tiffany Matos, 19, of Saltonstall Avenue, all of New Haven; and David Santiago, 31, of Michael Road, Hamden, owner of the Tire Doctor auto sales and garage at 470 Ella Grasso Blvd.; and Juan Baez, 33, of New Haven, another brother of Nelson Rodriguez.
The FBI has asked anyone with knowledge of Nelson Rodriguez’s whereabouts to contact them at 777-2140.
If convicted, Nelson Rodriguez, Laureano, Baez, and Martinez each face up to life in prison and up to a $4 million fine. Venus Rodriguez and Santiago face up to 40 years in prison and up to $2 million in fines.
Juan Baez and Tiffany Matos each face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, if convicted.

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