A Meriden man has been charged in connection with drug trafficking in Hartford, U.S. Attorney and Kimberly K. Mertz, special agent in charge of the FBI, announced today.
Shakim White, 27, a.k.a. “Country” and “Lil Weezie,” is among 36 people, most of them from Hartford, who were charged under indictments returned by a Hartford federal grand jury. The indictments charged the suspects with various offenses related to the distribution of crack cocaine and possession and dealing of firearms. The third indictment was unsealed on May 9, 2012, after 10 of the defendants were arrested.
The indictments stem from “Operation Vinefield,” a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, targeting narcotics trafficking and gang violence in Hartford’s North End.
The nine-month investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of crack cocaine, and physical surveillance.
“I want to acknowledge the hard work and full commitment of the FBI, the Hartford Police Department, the Connecticut State Police and the Connecticut Department of Correction in the lengthy investigation of this matter and the arrests of these defendants,” Fein said in a statement released late Friday afternoon. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal partners will continue to work with local and state law enforcement to bring narcotics and firearms traffickers to justice and to help free communities of gang violence.”
“The FBI is committed to working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to address violent crime in Connecticut’s cities, and I want to recognize and express appreciation for the invaluable work of the Connecticut State Police, the Hartford Police Department, and the Connecticut Department of Correction,” said Mertz.
White was arrested on an indictment issued March 7 and which also charged 11 other with various narcotics offenses related to crack cocaine trafficking in the lower Vine Street area of Hartford.
If convicted, a number of the defendants face a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and fines of up to $10 million. Due to prior narcotics trafficking convictions, a number of defendants face increased penalties.
Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Besides the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, this matter was investigated by the Connecticut State Police, the Hartford Police Department and the Connecticut Department of Correction. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian P. Leaming.