Vernon man gets 10 years for selling 20 kilograms of cocaine
A Vernon man who admitted receiving some 20 kilograms of cocaine between March 2008 and April of this year was sentenced Monday to 10 years in federal prison.
The sentence imposed on the man, Hedric Velez, 35, formerly of 96-B Prospect St., was virtually a foregone conclusion as a result of his plea bargain in the case.
Velez had pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, a crime that carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years.
Senior Judge Peter C. Dorsey, who sits in U.S. District Court in New Haven, theoretically could have imposed a longer prison term. But Velez’s plea agreement gave him the right to appeal any sentence longer than 10 years, giving the judge an incentive not to impose such a sentence.
Investigators learned through wiretaps that Velez was one of multiple suppliers of cocaine to Wilberto Huertas, who in turn was selling the cocaine to at least six dealers, according to a sentencing memorandum by prosecutor Geoffrey M. Stone.
The investigation centered on drug distribution by members and associates of the Latin Kings street gang.
Stone acknowledged that Velez “is not identified as a gang member.” But the prosecutor said that Velez’s customer, Huertas, was a member of the gang and was distributing cocaine to other Latin Kings, who controlled the drug trade in certain parts of Hartford.
Charges are pending against Huertas, court records show.
Velez received his cocaine by mail from Puerto Rico.
Postal inspectors intercepted an Express Mail package to Velez on April 27 and determined that it contained just over a kilogram of powder cocaine, Stone wrote.
Law-enforcement personnel then delivered the package to Velez’s home at 96-B Prospect St. in Vernon, and he accepted it, the prosecutor wrote.
A subsequent law-enforcement search of the residence uncovered small amounts of heroin and marijuana as well as various drug paraphernalia, including a digital scale, according to the prosecutor.
Velez was initially arrested on state drug charges and later indicted at the federal level.
In a written statement given after his arrest, Velez said he initially was paid $500 to receive and deliver the packages of cocaine, Stone wrote. But Velez said he later began selling the cocaine in the packages himself, making about a $2,000 profit on each kilogram and shipping $25,000 to $34,000 in cash to Puerto Rico as payment for the cocaine.
It was in that statement that he admitted receiving about 20 kilograms of cocaine, according to the prosecutor.
Defense lawyer Charles F. Willson of East Hartford said in his sentencing memorandum that Velez has no criminal history. Willson added that state prosecutors are expected to drop the drug charges pending against him in Vernon Superior Court.
By Alex Wood
Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 10:27 AM EST