The leader of a drug trafficking organization that smuggled cocaine from Mexico into the United States was sentenced to 12 years in prison today. 57-year-old Raul Chavez headed an operation that smuggled cocaine from Mexico into El Paso, Texas, and then transported the drug to Connecticut and elsewhere.
A DEA investigation revealed that the Chavez organization had been supplying multiple kilograms of cocaine to Hartford-area distributors since approximately 2004. Several times a year, Chavez and his men sent shipments in the range of 30 to 40 kilograms of coke from El Paso into Connecticut.
In 2014, the Chavez organization attempted to find an additional source of supply for its Hartford area cocaine customers. In July 2014, a DEA confidential source met Andrew Duron, also known as “Chavo,” in North Carolina. During the meeting, Duron told the confidential source that he wanted to purchase up to 50 kilograms of cocaine for $28,000 per kilogram.
Duron, the confidential source and an undercover DEA agent then met in New Jersey on August 14, 2014, where Duron agreed to purchase 25 kilograms of cocaine. In subsequent conversations with the confidential source, Duron stated that he wanted an extra $1000 per kilogram as a side deal. They agreed on a total price of $725,000 for 25 kilograms of cocaine.
Investigators discovered that this cocaine shipment was destined for Tyshawn Welborn, also known as “Black,” of Bloomfield, and Todd Vernon of Hartford, the latter of whom prepaid for approximately 13 kilograms of cocaine. On August 22, 2014, Chavez and others met with Welborn at a restaurant in East Windsor where they discussed the pick-up of money from Welborn the following day and its delivery to a location to be determined.
On August 23, 2014, Duron met the undercover DEA agent at a location in Wethersfield. Duron told the undercover agent that his associates were in Connecticut and that Duron and the undercover agent would need to travel to a store parking lot near Bradley International Airport to verify that the money was in place. Duron and the undercover agent then drove in separate vehicles to a store parking lot on Kennedy Road in Windsor. Duron met with Chavez and another associate in the store. A short time later, a third associate arrived in a Jeep Wrangler, met the undercover agent in the parking lot, showed him a duffel bag and said it contained “half” of the money.
Shortly thereafter, agents arrived at the scene and arrested Duron, Chavez and his associates. DEA agents also recovered from the Jeep a duffel bag containing approximately $284,000 in cash, and a loaded .38 caliber revolver. The cash had been picked up from Welborn earlier that day.
After word reached Chavez’s son, Christopher Chavez, that his father and others had been arrested, Christopher Chavez coordinated the diversion of a shipment of 34 kilograms of cocaine, which was on its way to Connecticut, to a high-level drug distributor in Cleveland, Ohio.
Chavez has been detained since his arrest. On March 11, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Duron, Welborn, Vernon and Christopher Chavez also pleaded guilty. On September 22, 2015, Duron, of El Paso, was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment; on October 7, 2016, Christopher Chavez, of El Paso, was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment, and on December 21, 2016, Welborn was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment. Vernon awaits sentencing.
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