Suburban dad who fueled his drug habit by selling dozens of guns to violent Hartford drug dealers

Bodhisattva

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Suburbanite Norman Klosek had a pistol permit and an all-consuming drug addiction and that, the police say, made him a critical part of the endless continuum of drugs, guns and violence that has Hartford on track for one of the most violent years in city history.
For six months last year – until he was caught – Klosek fed his drug habit by using his pistol permit to buy dozens of cheap handguns that he in turn sold to some of the city’s most notorious drug dealers, who used them as armament in the turf wars that periodically erupt in urban firefights.

Klosek’s guns have been recovered, from all around Hartford and far beyond. An ex-convict used one to shoot a rival in the face, twice, on Capital Avenue. A Hartford man with a bullet in his leg was carrying one after fleeing to Massachusetts for medical treatment. Police in California found one last month while breaking up a drug transaction - a year and a half after Klosek bought it from one of the suburban Hartford gun shops he patronized.

Most of the weapons remain unaccounted for and will probably remain so until someone else is shot or another drug network if broken up, authorities said.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton sentenced Klosek to 46 months in prison for illegally trafficking in firearms and lying about it to FBI agents. He faced five years or more in prison, but the judge said she was showing leniency because much of what Klosek did was driven by his addiction to the powerful, synthetic opiate fentanyl that he got from his Hartford gang customers.
Arterton, who leads a federal program for paroled drug addicts, told Klosek he was accused of “criminal conduct whose seriousness can hardly be described, whose repercussions now are only partially known.”
When sober, she called Klosek “a good and law abiding father, husband and friend” but under the influence of drugs he was a different person.
“This is a purposeful and thought-out, regular pattern that took place regularly for almost six months,” Arterton said. “And most astoundingly it had Mr. Klosek doing business with some of Hartford’s worst gang and drug dealers by reputation, whose business was nothing but harm to others facilitated and protected by the firearms Mr. Klosek provided to them.”


Federal prosecutor Brian Leaming, who pressed for a longer sentence, described Klosek and others like him as essential elements of inner city drug violence.
“Klosek single-handily put 47 guns into an unregulated covert market where the most dangerous and unpredictable offenders have access, and where their intentions are never lawful,” Leaming wrote in a memo to the court. “The deliberate, repeated and callous distribution of firearms is inexcusable and demands a substantial sentence.”
Leaming said there were 162 shootings in Hartford over the first nine months of 2020. The number had jumped to 180 by Wednesday. There were 143 shootings in Hartford in 2019, he said
“We have already broken the record and we have two more months to go,” he said.
Hartford police encountered Klosek in 2018 while working with FBI agents and others on an investigation targeting Ricardo “Rick the Ruler” Reyes, the leader of the street gang Los Solidos, which controlled fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack sales in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood.

Investigators suspected from listening in on wiretapped telephone conversations that Reyes was also dealing in firearms. The taps also revealed that Klosek, a married father of three daughters who lives in Enfield, had a valid Connecticut pistol permit and was acting as a straw buyer – meaning he was using his permit to buy weapons for felons like Reyes, who could not do so.
Police were watching in April 2019 when Reyes showed up in his Cadillac at Klosek’s home in Enfield and brought him to the Newington Gun Exchange where he bought Reyes two handguns. When police pulled over the Cadillac, they found the guns and, hidden in a compartment behind the radio, fentanyl, heroin and about two pounds of marijuana. Klosek’s pocked was stuffed with fentanyl and hypodermic needles.


Federal authorities said Klosek has purchased 45 handguns since November 2018 - 25 of them since March 2019. He usually bought two at a time. Most were cheap and cost between $155 and $257. He always paid cash and, according to court filings, shopped at Hoffman’s Gun Store, Cabela’s, Newington Gun Exchange and Tobacco Valley Gun.
A shooting involving a Klosek gun was captured by a store surveillance video. Julio Monet, who was on probation for a robbery conviction, shot an unidentified victim on Capitol Avenue. The video shows Monet walking up to the victim, raising the gun and firing point blank into the victim’s face.
When the victim collapsed, Monet checked his pocket and slapped him in face three times before ripping a gold chain from around the victim’s neck. Monet walked away, apparently thought better of it, returned and shot the victim in the face a second time. Somehow, the victim survived. Monet was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Only a handful of Klosek guns have been recovered. Among them:
  • A 9mm pistol was seized along with quantities of heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine when police arrested reputed Solido drug dealer Jose “Crack Baby” Restrepo, who is awaiting sentencing in federal court for selling fentanyl.
  • Hartford Police found a 9mm pistol while executing a search warrant at Broad Street Liquors. They charged store operator Luis Nieves-Feliciano with selling cocaine and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison.
  • While serving search warrants 31 Sprague Street and 35 Rowe Avenue as part of a Solidos drug investigation, FBI agents found two handguns - in addition to 3,500 bags of packaged fentanyl.
  • Hartford police took a 9mm pistol from a 20-year old Hartford man they arrested on Magnolia Street and charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. The case is pending in Superior Court.
 
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milktree

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Most of the weapons remain unaccounted for and will probably remain so until someone else is shot or another drug network if broken up, authorities said.

Fake news. They all have serial numbers and can be traced.

( For the sarcasm impaired, that was sarcasm.)
 

Dennis in MA

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To be fair, 2A is pretty damned clear. Not only should he NOT have to have a gun permit, but these miscreants, if not in jail, have no restriction on purchasing arms on their own.

It would solve the dude's drug problem, too. No market??? No drugs. Simple.
 

allen-1

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Arterton, who leads a federal program for paroled drug addicts, told Klosek he was accused of “criminal conduct whose seriousness can hardly be described, whose repercussions now are only partially known.”
When sober, she called Klosek “a good and law abiding father, husband and friend” but under the influence of drugs he was a different person.
“This is a purposeful and thought-out, regular pattern that took place regularly for almost six months,” Arterton said.

Where's @Obie1 when you need him?


The bolded part of the sentence above implies that that the judge was sober when she called Klosek "a good and law..."

Wonder what she would have said when she wasn't sober?

Yeah, I know. Pedant. But the sloppiness of the writing is mildly irritating.
 

tuna

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Honestly there are so many guns on the street who cares that a few more are out there, they are used mostly for thug vs thug shooting so it’s a win win the way I see it.

Whenever the news talks about x amount shot in Chicago in a weekend, we need to shrug and say “so what?”

WHO is getting killed? A bunch of criminals? BFD. A few innocent killed in the crossfire because the parents tolerate this crap in their neighborhoods? Boo hoo.

No one gives a shit except to say there’s a gun problem. How about saying there is t a problem at all?
 

67ray

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"Klosek has purchased 45 handguns since November 2018 - 25 of them since March 2019."

Am I the only one thinking - NES screen name?!?

.
 

Dennis in MA

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This guy must have been a real junkie. To sell a firearm to a criminal, a firearm that has the serial number registered to you is just plain stupid.

Depends on the state. Buy it used in a more-free-state - good luck Uncle tracing that gun. Eventually you're gonna hit Beaudreau that tells the ATF ossifer to go pound sand. Just a matter of buying a gun that's been through enough hands. This ain't no Law & Order. LOL

Does CT even have a registry?? His stupidity was buying ALL of these 45 guns at ONE store. Likely at least ONE the cops recovered was brandy-new. THAT'S easy to trace. Factory to distributor to dealer to WHOOPS!
 
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