John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that CARLOS SOTO, also known as “Puchie,” 39, of New Britain, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 46 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for trafficking firearms.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2018, the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force began investigating Ricardo Reyes, also known as “Rick the Ruler,” a member of the Los Solidos street gang who was distributing fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack in the area of Park Street and Hungerford Street in Hartford. During the investigation, law enforcement conducted multiple controlled purchases of narcotics from Reyes. Court-authorized wiretaps confirmed that Reyes was distributing narcotics to numerous customers, and identified individuals who supplied drugs to Reyes and associates who sold drugs on his behalf. Intercepted communications also revealed that Norman Klosek of Enfield was acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms for Reyes. Klosek, who was addicted to heroin/fentanyl, purchased and then illegally sold, or “loaned,” a total of 47 handguns to support his drug addiction.
On April 22, 2019, multiple intercepted communications revealed that Reyes and Soto were brokering a gun deal where Julio Martinez, of New Britain, arranged to purchase two firearms from Reyes and Soto for $800. On that date, Reyes picked up Klosek in Enfield and drove to a licensed gun dealer in Newington where Klosek, who had a valid state firearm permit, purchased two handguns. Klosek then provided the guns to Reyes. After the purchase, law enforcement observed Reyes, Soto and Martinez at a location on High Street in New Britain. Martinez then left the High Street location and traveled by car to a nearby grocery store. Investigators believed that Martinez was in possession of the two firearms, but Martinez, in fact, had traveled to the grocery store to use an ATM to retrieve cash for the firearms purchase. Investigators stopped and searched Martinez as he attempted to exit the store. The search revealed $850 in cash. Later that day, investigators conducted a traffic stop of Reyes’ vehicle in New Britain and seized the two firearms.
Soto, Reyes, Martinez and several co-defendants were arrested on federal criminal complaints on June 17, 2019. On that date, investigators seized two additional guns that had been purchased by Klosek.
On June 27, 2019, a grand jury Hartford returned a 32-count indictment charging Soto, Reyes, Martinez and 12 associates with various narcotics trafficking and firearm possession offenses.
Soto has been detained since his arrest. On December 12, 2019, he pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Reyes, Martinez and Klosek also pleaded guilty. On June 30, 2020, Martinez was sentenced to 46 months of imprisonment. Reyes and Klosek await sentencing.
To date, approximately 11 of the 47 guns purchased by Klosek have been recovered by law enforcement. One gun was recovered after it was used in a shooting in Hartford on August 22, 2019.
The FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division and the New Britain Police Department have provided valuable assistance to the investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Leaming.