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El Paso Cocaine Trafficker Guilty

Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, today announced that a federal jury in New Haven has found RAUL CHAVEZ, 62, of El Paso, Texas, guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.

The trial before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer began on September 7 and the jury returned its verdict this morning.

According to the evidence and testimony at trial, Chavez headed a cocaine trafficking operation that smuggled cocaine from Mexico into El Paso, Texas, and then transported the drug to Connecticut and elsewhere. The investigation revealed that the Chavez organization supplied multiple kilograms of cocaine to Hartford-area distributors for approximately 10 years.  The shipments, which would typically be in the range of 30 to 40 kilograms, were sent regularly from El Paso multiple times per year.

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.  In August 2014, Duron, the confidential source and an undercover DEA agent met in New Jersey where Duron agreed to purchase 25 kilograms of cocaine for $700,000.

The investigation revealed 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 location 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, investigators arrived at the scene and arrested Duron, Chavez and his associates.

Investigators 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 en route to Connecticut, to a high-level drug distributor in Cleveland, Ohio.

Chavez has been detained since his arrest.  Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for December 8, 2021, at which time Chavez faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

Chavez initially admitted his role in this conspiracy and pleaded guilty to the charge in March 2016.  In January 2017, shortly before Chavez was scheduled to be sentenced, he moved to withdraw his guilty plea.  Judge Meyer denied the motion and sentenced Chavez to 12 years of imprisonment and ordered him to pay a $250,000 fine.  Chavez successfully appealed the decision, the conviction and sentenced were vacated, and the case proceeded to trial.

Duron, Welborn, Vernon and Christopher Chavez were convicted of related charges.

This investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Hartford Task Force, including officers from the Wethersfield, Bristol, Hartford, Manchester, New Britain and Newington Police Departments.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian P. Leaming and A. Reed Durham 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.