Naugatuck, Waterbury men charged in federal drug investigation

WATERBURY — Federal authorities — using secret cameras and aircraft surveillance — have arrested multiple men they say are part of a crack cocaine ring that sold in Waterbury and Naugatuck in recent months.

Adam “Pauly” Strong, 37, of Naugatuck, the suspected head of the trafficking organization, was arrested Tuesday, but has been a target of multiple investigations in the past, including multiple drug probes and felony murder, according to authorities.

Miguel Torres, 38, of Waterbury, was also charged as part of a long-term investigation that began in December when Naugatuck police developed a confidential source that led them to Strong, who is currently on federal probation for a past drug sale conviction.

The Drug Enforcement Administration joined in the case, lending resources to borough officers that included air surveillance and agents. Strong was also a target of a similar joint federal and town narcotics investigation in 2015 that led to his arrest after those authorities say he distributed more than 500 grams of crack cocaine.

Police were told that Strong, who served prison time for that conviction, was “back in the game” and dealing from a stash house in Naugatuck. Based on that, they carried out three undercover drug sales with Strong and Torres, swapping cash for crack. Each of those interactions was recorded in some way by police, including a secret camera worn during the swaps.

As part of the investigation, authorities searched a home at 90 Aetna St. in Naugatuck while also intercepting data from Strong’s phone and using a surveillance camera attached to an aircraft to follow Torres’ car during one of the deals on Alder Street in Waterbury earlier this year.

At least one of those deals was made near the Cumberland Farms on North Main Street in Naugatuck, according to authorities. Authorities also suspect that Strong was using the Aetna Street home as a “stash house” for storing crack-cocaine used by the ring. It’s unclear how much, if any, narcotics were seized during the investigation.

A third suspected member of the ring, Luke Ashmore, 39, was also arrested Tuesday by police in Naugatuck, along with Russell Sullivan, 45, who was a suspected customer.

Strong is currently being held in federal detention without bond, while Torres was held on a $150,000 bond.

The men are expected to appear in federal court to face drug charges in connection with the case.