Puerto Rico Man Sentenced to More Than 6 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Cocaine to Connecticut

Plastic packet with cocaine powder or another drugs in mans hand. Close-up macro photo.

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that LUIS COLLAZO-RIVERA, 40, of Caguas, Puerto Rico, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 75 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for trafficking cocaine from Puerto Rico to Connecticut through the U.S. Mail.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Hartford Task Force and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began investigating a drug trafficking organization that was sending Priority Mail parcels containing kilogram-quantities of cocaine through the U.S. Mail from Puerto Rico to Connecticut and elsewhere.  The investigation revealed that Erick Suarez, of New Britain, coordinated shipments of cocaine from Collazo-Rivera and his associates in Puerto Rico to addresses in New Britain, Hartford, Newington, East Hartford and Bridgeport, as well as Springfield, Massachusetts.  Investigators identified more than 50 suspect parcels that were mailed from Puerto Rico, and intercepted five of the suspect parcels, each of which contained approximately one kilogram of cocaine.

On April 10, 2018, investigators arrested Collazo-Rivera and several other members of the cocaine trafficking ring, including Jerry Rodriguez, also known as “Bebo,” of Hartford.  On that date, a search of Rodriguez’s residence revealed approximately 400 grams of cocaine, approximately 160 grams of heroin, items used to process and package narcotics for street sale, and a loaded .45 caliber handgun.  Also on that date, investigators searched Suarez’s residence, as well as two storage units used by Suarez and one storage unit used by Rodriguez in West Hartford.  The search of Suarez’s storage units revealed more than $50,000 in cash and a search of Rodriguez’s storage unit revealed additional items used to process and package narcotics.

Collazo-Rivera has been detained since his arrest.

On April 18, 2018, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Collazo-Rivera, Suarez, Rodriguez and four other individuals with conspiring to distribute cocaine.  Collazo-Rivera pleaded guilty on April 8, 2019.

Suarez and Rodriguez also pleaded guilty.  On January 15, 2020, Suarez was sentenced to 97 months of imprisonment and, on February 21, 2020, Rodriguez was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment.

The DEA’s Hartford Task Force includes personnel from the DEA Hartford Resident Office and the Bristol, Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield, Windsor Locks and Willimantic Police Departments.  The DEA Puerto Rico Caribbean Corridor Strike Force and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division, San Juan (P.R.) Office, have assisted the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey M. Stone through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

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