Street level dealer sentenced to probation in New London area drug trafficking case
A 29-year-old man who operated as a street-level dealer in a large heroin trafficking operation in New London County received a sentence of four years of probation last week in U.S. District Court.
Javier Mateo of East Lyme had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin. He faced 33 to 41 months of imprisonment under federal sentencing guidelines, but Judge Michael P. Shea imposed a sentence under the guidelines.
Mateo was one of 20 people indicted under Operation Domino Effect, an investiation that began after an increase in overdoses, including two deaths involving a heroin and fentanyl mix that occurred in January 2016.
The local leader of the trafficking ring, Michael "Mike Mike" Luciano, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison in January for supplying street-level dealers in the New London area with heroin he obtained from sources in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Eddy Pena of Providence, convicted at a trial in February of supplying drugs to Luciano and distributors in Providence and Fall River, faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life.
According to Mateo's attorney, Michael R. Hasse, Mateo completed inpatient drug treatment at the APT Foundation in New Haven while his case was pending and is continuing to receive outpatient treatment while working at a hotel in Niantic. Mateo had only a minor criminal record and served two months in prison before being released to the rehabilitation program, according to court documents.
Hasse submitted letters of recommendations from relatives of Mateo and members of the community while arguing for a reduced sentence.
"He had substance abuse issues, and we took care of them and resolved them," said Hasse.
Mateo claimed he was dealing drugs to feed his addiction, but the government asserted in a sentencing memorandum that Mateo was dealing drugs to make money, and had at least one transaction involving 7 grams of heroin. Still, U.S. Attorney S. Dave Vatti did not oppose a non-guideline sentence of probation, according to court records.
"In the particular circumstances of this case, just punishment and promotion of respect for the law, beyond the two months the defendant spent in detention, can be served with home confinement, community service and other conditions the court could impose as part of supervised release or probation," Vatti wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Judge Shea ordered Mateo to begin his four-year probationary period by serving serve 30 days of home confinement, during which he is allowed to leave home for work, church, medical and probation appointments. The judge imposed 100 hours of community service, continued substance abuse treatment and ordered Mateo to be working or attending school.
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