A Naugatuck man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in a large scale Oxycodone trafficking ring that spanned the east coast of the United States.
Stephen Stopper, 47, was first stopped by police on June 6, 2011, when he picked up approximately 700 Oxycodone pills that had been trafficked into Connecticut from Florida, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Police found Stopper in possession of a .357 revolver and found Stopper’s associate carrying about $7,000 that was to be used to purchase Oxycodone, a severe painkiller typically prescribed to people with serious illnesses.
Stopper was arrested in September as part of a sting called “Operation Blue Coast, an investigation headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force into the large-scale trafficking of Oxycodone pills from Florida to Connecticut, according to the news release.
Investigators said Stopper and his associates regularly purchased Oxycodone from suppliers in Florida, transported them to Connecticut by commercial airline or automobile and then sold the pills to Connecticut-based narcotics dealers, the news release states.
“After exchanging low-denomination currency for larger notes, he transported the proceeds of his Oxycodone sales from Connecticut to Florida, either by having a courier drive the money or by using commercial airline flights,” the news release states.
Investigators said that in less than one year, the drug ring was responsible for allowing tens of thousands of the highly addictive pills to tranfer from Florida to Connecticut.
On March 16, Stopper pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Oxycodone.
On top of the two years in prison, Stopper was given three years probation and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.
Twenty people, including three Transportation Security Administration officers, a Florida State Trooper and a Westchester County Police Officer, have been charged as a result of this investigation.
The matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, which includes personnel from the Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport, Milford, Norwalk, Stamford and Westport Police Departments; the Drug Enforcement Administration in Florida and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. In addition, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Greenwich, Monroe, Danbury and Waterbury Police Departments have assisted the investigation.
U.S. Attorney David Fein also acknowledged the cooperation of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the Florida Highway Patrol, and the substantial assistance provided by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
This case is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant United States Attorneys Rahul Kale and Tracy Lee Dayton.
Note: Video regarding this case is from Patch archives.