NEW HAVEN — A member of a marijuana smuggling ring responsible for as much as $120,000 a month in sales in Fairfield County was sentenced to more than three years in prison Monday in U.S. District Court.
Federal investigators said they used wiretaps to document ring members’ smuggling hundreds of pounds of high-grade, hydroponically grown marijuana from Quebec into Connecticut and smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash back to Canada.
The amount of marijuana and money moved by the Canadian group probably is higher because the ring is suspected of operating for five years before investigators learned of its existence in 2007 through a police traffic stop in upstate New York. A state trooper stopped a courier carrying $376,000 in cash to Canada.
Brian Danzi, 35, of Greenwich, described by authorities as a principal in the ring, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz to 41 months in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy and distribution of marijuana.
His brother Michael Danzi, 32, of Greenwich, previously was sentenced to 48 months in prison on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and one count of conspiracy to smuggle bulk cash out of the United States.
Two other members, George Tsellos, 39, of St. Laurent, Quebec, and Soterios Tsellos, 36, of Laval, Quebec, previously were sentenced to 30 months and eight months, respectively. They pleaded guilty to charges involving distribution of marijuana and smuggling cash out of the United States.
Government legal papers filed in the case show that the ring was selling as much as 30 pounds of marijuana a month to retail drug dealers in southwestern Connecticut. The ring charged as much as $4,000 a pound, depending on the potency of the marijuana, federal prosecutors said.
Federal agents confiscated nearly $800,000 en route to Canada. They also seized cash, automobiles and all-terrain vehicles from the Danzi brothers.
The Danzi brothers reported no income during the period they were under investigation. But over the same period, federal investigators said, Brian Danzi bought a home in Ridgefield and both brothers bought German luxury cars.
In addition, investigators said, from 2001 to 2007, Michael Danzi bought about $413,000 in chips at three casinos in Connecticut and New Jersey. The U.S. attorney’s office said Michael Danzi reported combined wins of $30,450 and losses of $139,271.