The Ansonia Anti-Crime Unit used confidential informants, “controlled” drug buys, letters from prison and secretly planted GPS devices in an effort to build a case against a highly organized, close-knit crew of alleged drug dealers.
Ansonia police announced June 1 the arrest of nine people in five towns on a variety of criminal charges, mostly related to drug dealing. In addition, police raids that day resulted in the seizure of crack cocaine, cash, two stolen handguns, and three stun guns.
Arrest and search warrants connected to the case shed some light on how Ansonia police believe the crew operated. The documents also provide information on the May 12 murder of 22-year-old Javon Zimmerman, who police allege was directly involved in the drug dealing.
A car police said was often used by Zimmerman to sell drugs was being tracked by a GPS device. Police used GPS data to track where the car traveled after Zimmerman was shot in Derby.
The group of drug dealers targeted by Ansonia police during the roughly six-month probe are referred to only as the “Zimmerman family and their associates” in a search warrant affidavit.
The Zimmerman crew are family members — including step-brothers and sisters, uncles and cousins — who either live in the Naugatuck Valley or are from the Valley originally.
At the time of the raids, Ansonia police had pegged the Zimmerman crew as “the main street-level suppliers of crack-cocaine in Ansonia and the surrounding Valley towns.”
The organization is thought to have played a role in a number of shootings in Ansonia and Derby since 2009, along with the theft of firearms in Shelton.
In fact, “the majority of drug-related complaints and drug-related violence over the past several years can all be linked to the Zimmerman organization,” the warrant, authored by Ansonia Police Officers Kristen Hunt and Alexander Barreira, states.
During its investigation, the Anti-Crime Unit, a relatively new, three-person unit within the Ansonia Police Department, was able to break down the structure of the Zimmerman crew, according to the warrant.
Police say the leader of the group is 27-year Keyshon Zimmerman, Javon Zimmerman’s older brother.
Keyshon Zimmerman, who has an extensive criminal history in the Valley, is allegedly running the operation from behind the bars of the Enfield Correctional Institution, where he is serving a four-year sentence on several criminal convictions.
Court documents say Keyshon Zimmerman, who has not been charged in connection to his alleged role, wrote letters from prison advising the crew on how to conduct business.
In an Oct. 12, 2011 letter to Javon Zimmerman, police allege Keyshon urges his brother “to get back in it” and outlines profit goals related to dealing crack cocaine.
Keyshon Zimmerman indicates if Javon follows his plans, the group can profit $200,000 in 10 months.
Keyshon also allegedly advises Javon to have his girlfriend open up bank accounts and put her name on any documents related to homes or apartments so the crew can hide its drug money “legitimately.”
Keyshon Zimmerman’s October letter allegedly identified Roosevelt Scott, 23, as the group’s street leader while Keyshon serves his prison sentence.
Police allege the Zimmerman crew’s leaders included Scott, Javon Zimmerman and Kassie Zimmerman. They acted as managers, lining up cars to use in order to sell crack cocaine and finding a network of homes in the region to stash drugs.
They also allegedly supervised the street-level drug dealers in the Valley. Police identify the dealers as Quayshaun Rhodes, Tyquan Bailey, Tyrone Daniels, Thomas Hailey and Quandre Howell.
Finally, the group allegedly used a network of local connections to store drugs and money. A search warrant names 12 people who helped the group by allowing them to use their homes and apartments.
Buying Crack Cocaine
The Zimmerman crew did not sell crack cocaine on local street corners, according to court documents.
Instead, their operation was mobile.
Buyers had to have a cell phone number to call in order to make arrangements to buy crack cocaine. The phone numbers and places to meet to buy drugs were always changing to different spots in the Valley.
A dozen arrest warrants show the Anti-Crime Unit used “cooperating witnesses” to buy drugs from the dealers.
The witnesses wore digital recording devices during the drug buys. According to one warrant, a dealer would pull up to a buyer’s vehicle and “the transaction occurs through the car windows within seconds.”
In addition, Ansonia police secured search warrants allowing them to plant GPS devices on a number of vehicles allegedly being used by the group to sell drugs.
Police used data from the GPS trackers, along with information from confidential informants, in order to secure warrants to search 11 residences in five towns June 1.
The GPS data — and surveillance conducted by Ansonia police — indicates the drug crew was extremely busy.
“The GPS reports have further confirmed that this organization is an ‘around the clock’ narcotics operation,” a warrant reads.
Javon Zimmerman’s Murder
In fact, a car allegedly used by Javon Zimmerman was being monitored by a GPS tracker when he was shot and killed in the parking lot of RJ’s Cafe on Elizabeth Street in Derby May 12.
The car, a Honda Accord, arrived in the parking lot at 1:51 a.m. The warrant does not state the purpose of the parking lot visit, made just minutes before the bar closed.
Javon Zimmerman was shot at about 2 a.m. May 12, according to Derby police, by Cordaryl Silva, a confidential informant who was helping Ansonia police build their case against the Zimmerman crew.
A defense lawyer representing one of the accused dealers said Silva’s involvement in the case taints the evidence collected by Ansonia police. Click here for a separate story on Silva.
Ansonia police were not in the area when Zimmerman was shot.
Zimmerman “was either inside or next to the vehicle at the time the murder occurred,” according to an Ansonia police search warrant application.
Derby police initially complained there were some 50 patrons in the parking lot when Zimmerman was shot — yet no one would talk to police.
The search warrant states the Honda left the crime scene at 2:05 a.m. and drove a short distance in Cottage Street, where it remained for six minutes. Next the vehicle traveled to Webb Terrace in Ansonia, where it remained for 15 minutes.
A second vehicle — also with a GPS device attached — joined the Honda on Webb Terrace. Both vehicles then traveled to High Street, the warrant says, where the Honda stayed for about an hour and the second car “left after a minute.” The Honda then traveled to Waterbury, where Waterbury police intercepted it at a diner about two hours after Zimmerman was shot.
Derby police arrived and took the vehicle into evidence. Quayshon Rhodes, one of the alleged drug dealers, was with the vehicle when it was seized, according to police.
The killing of Javon Zimmerman — which received extensive media coverage — did not interrupt the flow of crack cocaine being supplied by the Zimmerman crew, according to the warrant.
Ansonia police said they arranged two more “controlled narcotics purchases” days after Zimmerman’s killing.
Recorded prison phone calls between May 12 and May 14 indicate Keyshon Zimmerman, Javon’s older brother and the alleged ringleader, “repeatedly (asked) questions which refer to how the drug business is operating.”
The calls were placed to Zimmerman’s family’s home on High Street in Ansonia, according to police.
The search warrant application states that Zimmerman is reassured that one of the dealers is “on it.”