58 Indicted For Drug Trafficking in La Trocha Ward, Vega Baja
NOV 25 -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico- DEA and and the Bayamón Strike Force today announced the execution of 58 arrest warrants as a result of an investigation targeting the drug trafficking organization based in La Trocha Ward in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. 42 individuals have been arrested thus far for their alleged participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy, federal law enforcement officials announced.
"Today the DEA joins forces with our Bayamon Strike Force counterparts in removing from head to toe the drug trafficking organization which for many years has been besieging La Trocha with the venom of their illegal drugs and their violence to perpetrate their crimes and intimidate the community” said DEA Caribbean Division Acting Special Agent in Charge, Vito S. Guarino. “DEA will continue supporting the U.S. Attorney's Strike Forces and HIDTA program with DEA’s unique expertise and resources to fight drug trafficking in every corner of the island. Teamwork has time and again has proven to be the most effective tool to carry on this fight against illegal drugs. DEA is part of that team."
Yesterday, a federal grand jury returned the indictment against 58 individuals charged with conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute narcotics and forfeiture allegations. According to the indictment, the object of the conspiracy was to distribute marijuana, crack and other illegal substances at several drug distribution points in the La Trocha Ward, located in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, all for financial gain and profit. The organization has been operating since 1999 until today’s takedown.
The indictment further alleges that the drug distribution points operated seven days a week on two 12-hour daily shifts. The 58 members of the organization had different roles within the drug trafficking gang, to wit: leaders, runners and/or administrators, sellers and lookouts. The two principal leaders are brothers: Juan Orsini-Martínez, a.k.a. “Cano Biombo” and Jacques Orsini-Martínez, a.k.a. “Jackie.” They, along with defendant Tomás Sepúlveda-Hernández, a.k.a. “Tommy,” have been the leaders/drug point owners of the organization since 1999. Jacques Orsini-Martínez was the principal leader and owner of the “crack” sold at the drug distribution point until his brother (defendant number one) took over in 2006. Tomás Sepúlveda-Hernández has been the principal leader and owner of the marijuana drug distribution point. Sometime after 2006, Sepúlveda-Hernández leased his drug distribution point and would collect from others weekly rent payments of approximately $700 for the rights to sell marijuana. There were also 20 runners, 29 sellers and six lookouts.
“Two months ago, on September 3, 2008, we had another takedown in Vega Baja at Altos de Cuba, where we arrested 69 out of 73 defendants, improving the quality of life for the citizens of the municipality. Today, the Bayamón Strike Force continues its enforcement efforts in Vega Baja,” said Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “This case is another example of the success of the Strike Force initiative. By pooling the resources of the Bayamón Strike Force with our DEA HIDTA we have been able to continue working aggressively to keep drugs off our streets, and to dismantle the violent criminal networks that profit from narcotics trafficking."
The investigation was conducted the DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) San Juan Task Force. The DEA HIDTA Task Force includes agents from the DEA, PRPD and NIE. HIDTA is an anti-drug initiative of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Bayamón Strike Force provided significant investigative assistance to the DEA. The Bayamón Strike Force is part of the Strike Force initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s for the District of Puerto Rico, as part of the U.S. Department of Justice Project Safe Neighborhoods program, which targets violent drug trafficking gangs and gung related violent crimes. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Olga Castellón and Assistant U.S. Attorney George Massucco-La Taif, under the supervision of Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Guillermo Gil-Bonar.
Penalties for the narcotics offenses alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment, and fines of up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00). Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.