News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 06, 2010
Contact: SA Waldo Santiago
Public Information Officer
Number: (787) 277-4700

DEA Ongoing Investigation Yields Six More Individuals Charged on a Superseding Indictment for Participation In Drug Trafficking
Conspiracy At The Luis Muñoz-Marin International Airport
Forfeiture Allegations For Two Million Dollars

 

DEA agent enters the airport terminal to execute arrest warrant.


AUG 06
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(SAN JUAN, PR) – On August 4, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging an additional six (6) individuals with conspiracy to import narcotics into Puerto Rico and the continental United States from the Dominican Republic and to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute narcotics in Puerto Rico and the continental United States for significant financial gain or profit, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The initial indictment charging eight (8) defendants with drug trafficking offenses was returned in March 25, 2009. The superseding indictment is the culmination of long term investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) targeting a drug trafficking organization operating at the Luis Muñoz-Marin International Airport in Carolina, PR announced Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Caribbean Division.

It was part of the conspiracy that conspirators would plan and arrange for various couriers to ingest “pellets” of heroin internally in the Dominican Republic, using residences and hotels. Later they would travel to Puerto Rico and the continental United States, via commercial vessels and/ or commercial airlines, expel the heroin “pellets” and provide them to other conspirators for further distribution. At various times during the conspiracy, the defendants would perform different functions in furtherance of the organization’s drug trafficking activities.

Manuel Santana-Cabrera, aka “Boss” and coconspirator George J. Morales, aka “Jorge Gerónimo Morales,” were the leaders of the drug trafficking organization.

In addition to heroin distribution, from on or about June 2006 to on or about June 2008, it was part of the conspiracy that conspirators would recruit, plan and arrange for various couriers to travel via commercial airlines, with checked baggage, to various areas in the continental United States where they would distribute kilograms of cocaine. Upon arriving at their destination, the coconspirators abandoned their checked luggage and retrieved the luggage filled with kilograms of cocaine and delivered the suitcases filled with cocaine to various individuals.

The facilitators, Máximo Bencosme Aybar, Jorge Correa Osorio and Victor De León Valverde worked as a “ground services” employees for Ground Motive Dependable from 2007 to 2008 at the Luis Muñóz Marín International Airport, where they were responsible for loading and unloading luggage and cargo from commercial aircraft. Defendants provided luggage filled with kilogram quantities of cocaine to other ground services employees, to place aboard commercial aircraft destined for the continental United States.

The couriers, José M. Vega-Torres, Israel N. Martes Canales, aka “Negro,” Alexander Reyes Rivera, María Muñíz Navedo, Victor Colón González, Fernando Báez Rivera, aka “Wichi,” Denise Shepard Fraser and Carmen Pastrana Colón were provided airline tickets, hotels and other travel arrangements to fly to various destinations in the continental United States. After arriving at their destination, the couriers retrieved checked luggage filled with kilograms of cocaine from the airlines’ baggage claims and provided the drugs to other coconspirators for further distribution.

“Federal and local law enforcement authorities will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life smuggle illegal contraband into our communities and to the Continental United States using us as the port of entry ” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

“This successful investigation is another example of DEA leading role in the OCDETF program which bring additional investigative resources and expertise to uncover criminal activities which endanger the safety of passengers and employees at our international airports” said Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Division.

This case is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCEDTF) and it was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Puerto Rico Police Department, the San Juan Municipal Police, and it’s been prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vernon B. Miles.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of ten (10) years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $4 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.