Naugatuck residents Steven Stopper and Kevin Lund are each facing several years in federal prison, and $1 million dollars in fines each, for their alleged roles as low-level dealers in a drug trafficking ring that Department of Justice authorities busted last week.
A federal grand jury in Bridgeport on Monday indicted Lund, 38, and Stopper, 46, each with possession of oxycodone, conspiring to distribute oxycodone and possession with intent to distribute.
in “Operation Blue Coast,” a Drug Enforcement Investigation into an alleged oxycodone ring that started with drug trafficking in Florida and ended with the dealing of oxycodone in the Waterbury region.
Lund and Stopper are facing a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the three charges, as well as a fine of up to $1 million, federal prosecutors said in a press release.
Stopper also is charged with one count of possession of a firearm, a charge that carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum term of imprisonment of life and a fine up to $250,000, officials said.
An informant, who was first arrested in Stamford and whose testimony initiated the case, told federal authorities he would make several trips a week from Florida to Connecticut, taking with him up to 8,000 pills at a time. The information said he was able to bypass airporty security and possible arrest by paying off TSA officers and police in Florida and New York.
The law enforcement officials are also facing charges in the case.
“The facts of this case are troubling for two principal reasons,” stated U.S. Attorney David B. Fein in a press release. “First, we allege that this organization was responsible for the transportation of tens of thousands of oxycodone pills, which, when abused, are dangerous narcotics that destroy individuals, families, and communities. Second, we allege that three officers of the Transportation Security Administration and two law enforcement officers accepted bribes in exchange for permitting the illegal drugs and the cash proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking to travel safely, undeterred by airport security or law enforcement. The Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners have no tolerance for corruption in these ranks.”
The Naugatuck defendants are expected to enter pleas on the charges when they return to court in the coming weeks, said Tom Carson, Department of Justice spokesman.
Several agencies have helped in the investigation, include members of the DEA, the U.S. Marshals, Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and several police departments from Greenwich and Waterbury.
According to a press release, here are all the individuals arrested:
- MARIVETTE ALICEA, 21 of Waterbury; CHRISTOPHER RODERICK, 31, of Canterbury, Conn.; STEVEN STOPPER, 46, of Naugatuck, Conn., and KEVIN LUND, 38, of Naugatuck, who also are alleged to have been involved in the illegal purchase and distribution of oxycodone.
- CHRISTOPHER ALLEN, 45, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., a TSA officer based at the Palm Beach International Airport. It is alleged he accepted cash payments in exchange for facilitating the transportation of oxycodone through airport security without detection.
- JOHN BEST, also known as “JB,” 30, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., a TSA officer based at the Palm Beach International Airport. It is alleged that BEST accepted cash payments and a gift card in exchange for facilitating the transportation of oxycodone through airport security without detection.
- BRIGITTE JONES, 48, of The Bronx, N.Y., a TSA officer based at Westchester County Airport. It is alleged that JONES accepted cash payments and a gift card in exchange for facilitating the transportation of oxycodone and narcotics trafficking proceeds through airport security without detection.
- MICHAEL BRADY, 36, of New York, a police officer employed by the Westchester County Department of Public Safety. It is alleged that BRADY accepted cash payments in Connecticut and New York in exchange for facilitating the transportation of narcotics trafficking proceeds through Westchester County Airport without detection.
- JUSTIN KOLVES, 28, of Florida, a Trooper employed by the Florida State Highway Patrol. It is alleged that KOLVES accepted cash payments and checks in exchange for ensuring that others could transport oxycodone and drug trafficking proceeds via automobile through a portion of Florida’s highway system without law enforcement interference. It is alleged that KOLVES also provided “protection” to the individual who headed the oxycodone trafficking conspiracy during what KOLVES believed to be two oxycodone transactions in Connecticut.
- JESSICA DOUGLAS, 28, of Florida. It is alleged that DOUGLAS, who is KOLVES’s fiance, assisted the conspiracy, accepted money on KOLVES’ behalf and arranged his transportation to Connecticut where KOLVES was to provide protection.
- SAMI NABER, 51, of Yonkers, N.Y. It is alleged that NABER leased and drove rental vehicles to transport oxycodone from New York to Connecticut, narcotics trafficking proceeds from Connecticut to New York, and also to Florida. It is also alleged that he exchanged small denominations of U.S. currency for larger denominations in order to facilitate the transportation of bulk cash.
- EMMANUEL BABE, also known as “Manny,” 38, of Mount Kisco, N.Y. It is alleged that BABE transported oxycodone from Florida to Connecticut and narcotics trafficking proceeds from Connecticut to Florida.
- WILNER CASTELIN, also known as “Castro,” 42, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It is alleged that CASTELIN transported oxycodone from Florida to Connecticut and narcotics trafficking proceeds from Connecticut to Florida.
- BRUCE YAZDZIK, also known as “YB,” 28, of Waterbury, Conn.; DAVID GAUDIOSI, also known as “Wade,” 26, of Waterbury, and PATRICK SERAFINE, 26, of Waterbury, who are each alleged to have purchased large quantities of oxycodone from members of the conspiracy, which they then distributed to street-level narcotics dealers.