NEW BRITAIN – A city man was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Tuesday in connection with a federal case involving his attempt to illegally buy two guns.
Julio Martinez, 41, was arrested last June along with a number of co-defendants in an investigation that started with the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force looking into Ricardo Reyes.
Reyes, who is also known as “Rick the Ruler” and is a member of the Los Solidos street gang, was distributing fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack in the area of Park Street and Hungerford Street in Hartford, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Connecticut.
During the investigation, law enforcement officials intercepted multiple communications that indicated Reyes and Carlos Soto, also known as “Puchie,” were arranging a gun deal with Martinez in April 2019. Investigators believe Martinez was trying to buy two guns for $800.
Federal officials further allege that Enfield resident Norman Klosek was acting as a “straw purchaser” – meaning he would legally buy guns and illegally sell them to individuals who cannot pass a background check. Officials said Klosek did this numerous times, selling or loaning a total of 47 guns to support his addiction to heroin and Fentanyl.
According to federal officials, on April 22, 2019, Reyes picked up Klosek in Enfield and drove to a licensed gun dealer in Newington, where Klosek, who had a valid state firearm permit, bought two handguns. Klosek then provided the guns to Reyes, federal officials said.
Following the transaction, investigators say they observed Reyes, Soto and Martinez on High Street in New Britain. Martinez then left and drove to a nearby grocery store.
Believing Martinez had already bought the guns, investigators stopped and searched him as he left the grocery store. It was then they discovered he had gone to the store to use the ATM. He was found with $850 but no guns.
Investigators later in the day pulled over Reyes in New Britain and found the two firearms in his vehicle.
Martinez Tuesday was sentenced to 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in the attempted purchase. He had previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to unlawfully possess firearms by a felon, following a 32-count indictment that was returned by a grand jury in Hartford in June 2019, charging Martinez, Reyes, Soto and 12 associates with various narcotics trafficking and firearm possession offenses.
Martinez’s criminal history includes multiple firearm and drug convictions. Federal officials said he was on special parole in April 2019 for stealing a firearm during a burglary.
Reyes, Klosek and Soto have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.