Hartford Man Who Trafficked Guns from South Carolina to Connecticut Sentenced to 10 Years

Hartford Man Who Trafficked Guns from South Carolina to Connecticut Sentenced to 10 Years

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ALBERTO VAZQUEZ, 39, of Hartford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven 120 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally trafficking firearms from South Carolina to Connecticut.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2020, ATF and Hartford Police recovered multiple firearms that had been purchased in South Carolina.  In July 2020, one of the firearms was found in the possession of a convicted felon.  In September and October 2020, additional firearms were recovered at the scenes of two separate homicides in Hartford.  The investigation revealed that Vazquez, a felon who cannot lawfully purchase or possess firearms, conspired with individuals in South Carolina, including Joshua Bentz and Tywonda Bentz, to purchase firearms from a licensed gun dealer in Columbia, South Carolina, transport them to Connecticut, and sell them to felons and other customers in the Hartford area.  Vazquez and his co-conspirators purchased approximately 37 firearms through this scheme.

Vazquez’s criminal history includes convictions for felony weapon possession, robbery and larceny offenses.

Vazquez has been detained since his arrest on March 15, 2021.  On March 25, 2022, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deal in firearms without a license and to unlawfully transport firearms, unlawful transportation of firearms, and unlawful possession of firearms by a felon.

Joshua Bentz and Tywonda Bentz pleaded guilty to related charges and await sentencing.  In addition, Vazquez’s former girlfriend, Julitza Garcia, pleaded to making false statements to law enforcement officers during the investigation and, on May 2, 2022, was sentenced to three years of probation.

This investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Hartford Police Department; the Columbia (S.C.) Police Department; and the Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara E. Levens through Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  In May 2021, the Justice Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: Fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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