DEA Mobile Enforcement Team Deployment Nets Eleven Arrests for Distribution of Drugs at the Enrique Zorrilla Public Housing in Manati, Puerto Rico
JUL 2 -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Jerome Michael Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Division, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Luis Rios, Director, Puerto Rico Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE) and Pedro Toledo-Davila, Superintendent of the Police of Puerto Rico (PPRD), today jointly announced the indictment of 14 individuals engaged in the distribution of illegal controlled substances in the Enrique Zorrilla Public Housing Project, in Manati, PR. Eleven individuals, of 14 indicted, were arrested today. These arrests are the result of a Federal Grand Jury indictment issued on June 21, 2007 in the District of Puerto Rico, charging the members of a drug trafficking organization with violations of the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
The individuals arrested were: JOSUE ROLON-ORONA, aka “Josue Motora,”; CLARIBELLE FIERRO, aka “Clari,”; DAVID CORDOVA-RUIZ, aka “Davicito,”; RAMON MENENDEZ-GONZALEZ, aka “Shain,”; MIGUEL SALGADO-SANTIAGO, aka “Miguel El Mono,”; LUIS CORTES-CLASS, aka “Luis El Loco,”; MIGUEL VELAZQUEZ-VALDEZ, aka “Miguelon,”; RAFAEL CLASS-FIGUEROA, aka “Papote,”; JUAN OSCAR ORTIZ-PAGAN; JOSE TORRES-VELEZ, aka “Joselito,”; and CRISTOBAL MAISONET-YOURNET, aka “Gordo,”.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA Puerto Rico’s Mobile Enforcement Team, known as the “MET”. The DEA MET is a task force group within the DEA Caribbean Division specialized on investigating and dismantling violent drug trafficking organizations operating in high crime areas within Puerto Rico. The DEA MET is composed of agents from the DEA, PRPD ,and the Puerto Rico Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE).
The individuals arrested were charged with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of narcotic controlled substances such as heroin, cocaine, crack and marihuana in a drug point at the Enrique Zorrilla Public Housing Project, in Manati, PR, which operated 24, 7 days a week. The organization generated over $600,000.00 in illegal profits as a result of their drug trafficking activities every month. The DEA MET was able to infiltrate the organization with undercover agents who conducted multiple buys of controlled substances from its members. Their drug trafficking activities extended to the municipalities of Manati, Ciales, Barceloneta ,and Arecibo. PRPD suspects that the organization is linked to several shootouts with rival drug gangs in these municipalities and with a recent murder in Ciales, PR. These shootouts and the murder are under investigation by the PRPD. DEA agents seized 500 vials of crack-cocaine during the arrest operation. On October of 2006, 2 members of the organization, Alexander AVILES-Santiago, aka “Pipo”, and Luis GONZALEZ-Moreno, aka “Poeta” were arrested by the DEA MET after they shoot at the agents with a .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol while attempting to escape following a vehicle pursuit.
Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment ranges from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines of up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial. The U.S. government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vernon Miles.