Federal grand jury indictes 3 in New London on charges stemming from 2012 slaying

A federal grand jury in New Haven on Monday indicted three New London men on numerous narcotics and assault charges stemming from the September 2012 homicide of 36-year-old Javier Reyes, who was fatally stabbed in New London.

The indictment alleges that Oscar "Tato" Valentin operated and managed a narcotics distribution enterprise at the "Green Garages," a series of garage bays located as 12/14 Walker St. in New London.

In the summer of 2011, Valentin was the intended victim of a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by former members of his enterprise in an attempt to take over narcotics distribution at the Green Garages.

Last October, Elmer Melendez, 30, of New London was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiring to kill Valentin in August 2011. According to the state, Antonio "Wilson" Peña of New London had arranged to pay Melendez and Gerardo Carrillo a total of $15,000 to kill Valentin, a rival drug dealer who has since been charged with federal drug distribution crimes and is incarcerated.

Peña was previously sentenced to eight years in prison. Carrillo was also sentenced to three years in prison.

Melendez had planned to distract Valentin with a gun while Carrillo fatally stabbed him. The men had gathered clothing, a knife and gun and were headed to Valentin's apartment when they were stopped by New London police, who had been tipped off by an informant.

Peña's brother-in-law, Reyes, was fatally stabbed at the Huntington Street apartment where Peña's family resides. Court officials have said Valentin, the intended target of the murder-for-hire scheme, was suspected in that homicide.

New London Deputy Chief Peter Reichard said Tuesday no state charges have been filed in Reyes' murder. State's Attorney Michael L. Regan said he would not comment on any pending criminal case.

The indictment alleges that Valentin hired Nestor "Ernie" Pagan, 31, and Andrew "Papo" Aviles, 26, and two other unnamed co-conspirators to assault Reyes in an attempt to maintain his position as the head of the Green Garages.

"This indictment alleges that Oscar Valentin orchestrated the brutal attack of Javier Reyes as part of his criminal drug dealing enterprise, while Nestor Pagan, Andrew Aviles and others executed Valentin's order," said U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly in a press release. "The investigation and prosecution of violent offenders is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney's Office and our law enforcement partners."

The four-count indictment charges Valentin, Pagan and Aviles with one count of conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering, specifically an assault that resulted in serious bodily injury, and one count of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering. The three defendants are also charged with using a facility in interstate commerce, namely a cellphone, with the intent to commit a crime of violence.

The indictment also charges Valentin and Pagan with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

If convicted of the charges, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment for life.

Valentin has been in federal custody since his arrest on narcotics charges on April 3, 2013. Pagan has been in federal custody since his arrest on unrelated firearms charges on Dec. 13, 2012. Aviles is in state custody on unrelated charges.

"The New London Police Department is thankful to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office for their close working relationship on this case, and the combined effort of the Connecticut State Police Major Crime Squad, Homeland Security and Secret Service for their efforts leading to this indictment," stated New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley in the release. "New London Detective (Richard) Curcuro has been quietly working on this case with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office since September 2012 and we look forward to a continued working relationship."

The case is being investigated by the New London Police Department and the FBI, with the assistance of the Connecticut State Police's Eastern District Major Crime Squad, the Connecticut Department of Correction, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Secret Service and the New London State's Attorney's Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Kaplan and Sarah Karwan, and Senior Assistant State's Attorney Paul Narducci.

i.larraneta@theday.com

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