MERIDEN — A drug raid early Monday morning was the result of a police investigation into Latin King gang activity at a home on South First Street, according to a police report. Officers found guns, drugs, cash and documents relating to the Latin Kings’ codes and “manifesto.”
Around 4:50 a.m., members of the Meriden police department SWAT team and the Wallingford/Cheshire SWAT team served a search warrant for the home at 57 S. First St. after receiving information that members of the gang were using the residence as a meeting place and were also storing guns, drugs and money in the home and detached garage. Police made a controlled purchase of crack cocaine from the home. Police had information that several Latin King members sleep in the detached garage.
“It should be noted that the Latin Kings are believed to be responsible for several shootings that have occurred in Meriden over the last several months,” the police report said. “...Also that in April 2019 a known Latin King member was shot several times by another Latin King member at 57 S. 1st St. The shooting appears to have occurred in or around the detached garage.”
When police entered, they found Angel Rojas, Denzell Woolard, Carlos Serrano and another man inside the garage. Officers found Betsy Gonzalez, Pierre Langlois, Luis Pellot and a juvenile inside the house.
The men in the garage were found on various couches and mattresses. Rojas resisted and police used a taser to take him into custody, the report said.
Inside the house, Gonzalez and Pellot were on the first floor and the juvenile and Langlois were on the second floor. Langlois told police he threw over $2,000 out of the second floor window, the report said. Police recovered the money outside.
Gonzalez, who rents the house, said she rents out the garage to Rojas for $100 a week, the report said. Gonzalez said she did not know what was going on inside the garage. She did not return requests for comment.
Police searching the garage found a baggie with 3.1 grams of suspected crack cocaine in Woolard’s pocket, a Cobra .380 caliber handgun that was reported stolen from Hartford and 46 .22 caliber rounds of ammunition in a workbench drawer near where Rojas was found, the report said. Police noted Rojas is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. Police said Rojas, who goes by the name Harlem, “is a high ranking officer of a violent street gang, who is known to possess firearms,” the report stated.
In the garage police also found a fanny pack on Rojas with his work identification and $2,922 in cash. Inside the house, police found 12 individual bags containing suspected crack cocaine, a digital scale, 18 .22 caliber and 9mm rounds of ammunition, and what appeared to be pieces of accessories to a firearm, the report said. In a kitchen cabinet police found a loaded Colt model 2000 9mm handgun that was registered to a man in Wallingford, the report said.
This firearm was not reported stolen. Officers found additional ammunition including .22 long rifle, 9mm and 45 automatic, inside the home.
Officers also found “a manifesto pertaining to the Latin Kings and their workings,” and two handwritten letters that speak about the codes of the Latin Kings, the report said.
Rojas and Gonzalez declined to speak with police. Woolard said his DNA would be on the gun found in the garage because “everybody touched the guns,” the report said. Woolard insinuated that he is a Latin King along with Rojas and told police “they have disagreements with other groups” in Meriden, the report said. Woolard allowed police to search his phone and officers noted a conversation between Woolard, Rojas and Langlois. In the conversation, Rojas asks them if they have their “pole” a slang term for gun because Langlois said the streets were “hot,” the report said.
Police noted while walking Woolard past Rojas’ holding cell, Rojas yelled at Woolard to take the drug charge for him, and Woolard immediately said “OK.” Police also noted that Pellot told officers he purchased the gun that was found in the kitchen from a man in New Britain for $300, the report said.
Rojas, 27, was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell, conspiracy, possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school and interfering with a search warrant. He was arraigned in Meriden Superior Court on Tuesday. The judge set bond at $300,000 and transferred the case to New Haven gun court for Aug. 20.
Woolard, 20, faces the same charges along with carrying a pistol without a permit. He was arraigned in Meriden Superior Court on Tuesday. The judge set bond at $250,000 and transferred the case to New Haven gun court for Aug. 20.
Langlois, 18, was charged with risk of injury to a minor, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, conspiracy, possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school and interfering with a search warrant. He was arraigned in Meriden Superior Court on Tuesday. The judge set bond at $75,000 and continued the case to Aug. 9.
Pellot, 20, and Gonzalez, 35, were both charged with risk of injury to a minor. Pellot was arraigned in Meriden Superior Court on Tuesday. The judge set bond at $75,000 and transferred the case to New Haven court for Aug. 20. Gonzalez was released on a promise to appear and was appointed a public defender to represent her in court on Tuesday. Her case was continued to Aug. 9.
Serrano, 26, was charged with interfering with a search warrant. He was also arrested on an active warrant for second-degree assault out of Middletown and turned over to Middletown police. Serrano was released by Meriden police on $10,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on July 25. A juvenile was also arrested as a result of the investigation. Police did not release the charges for the juvenile.
The home at 57 South First St. is owned by Luis M. Torres of Middletown. Torres said the home is leased to Gonzalez and only she and her two daughters are supposed to be living there. Torres said he was not aware that Gonzalez was renting the garage to anyone, and said he would not have allowed that because it is not permitted by code. Torres also said he did not know about the alleged gang activity. Torres said Gonzalez is receiving Section 8 assistance and has not paid her part of the rent for June and July. She has until next week to pay her portion or he will start eviction proceedings.
“I was very surprised,” Torres said after hearing about the allegations of gang activity at the home.
Torres said Gonzalez has been living in the home since 2017 or 2018.
Rita Brovender, of 31 S. First St., has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years and said police activity is not uncommon.
“I’m used to it,” Brovender said of Monday’s raid. “This is nothing new to me. I just stay away.”