75 Indicted For Drug Trafficking In Ponce, Puerto Rico Public Housing Project
MAR 09 - (San Juan, PR) – It was announced today by United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez that on February 28, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted 75 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD). The Puerto Rico Department of Justice also collaborated during the investigation and the Department of Corrections assisted during the arrest operation.
The defendants are charged in a seven-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine base, cocaine, marijuana, Oxycodone, and Alprazolam. The objective of the conspiracy was to distribute controlled substances at the Aristides Chavier Public Housing Project, located in Ponce, Puerto Rico for significant financial gain.
According to the indictment, from on or about December 2006, the defendants conspired to possess with the intent to distribute heroin, crack, cocaine and marijuana, at the drug distribution points located between buildings 22, 23, 25, 26, 28 and 29 within the Aristides Chavier Public Housing Project. The main leaders/drug owners of the organization were: Roberto Rojas-Aguayo, Aris Borrero-De Jesus, Harold Borrero-Santiago, Edgardo Justiniano-Torres, and Jorge Morales-Martinez. Defendant Aquilino Morales Sanchez was in charge of selling Percocet and defendant Madeline Rodriguez-Rosado was in charge of distributing Xanax.
The defendants and their co-conspirators would purchase wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana in order to distribute the same in street quantity amounts at their drug distribution points. The 75 co-conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: five leaders/drug owners, one supplier, 10 runners, 55 sellers, one lookout, and three facilitators.
It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that the co-conspirators would use apartments and other locations to cook, store, pack, sell, and conceal drugs, drug paraphernalia, drug ledgers, drug proceeds, scanners, firearms and ammunition. The members of the drug trafficking organization would possess, carry, use, brandish and/or use firearms in order to protect themselves and their drug trafficking business.
“DEA will continue to fight drug trafficking throughout Puerto Rico and shutdown these distribution points that are ruining the quality of life on the island,” said Pedro Janer, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. “This community reached out for help and DEA answered their call. We are fully committed to targeting these violent drug trafficking organizations that are plaguing our communities and the streets of Puerto Rico.”
“Since the advent of our Narcotics Strike Force in 2006, we have indicted 2,253 defendants, with the valuable assistance of our Federal and local law enforcement counterparts,” said Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We are committed to dismantling these violent drug trafficking organizations, and have zero tolerance for crime in our public housing projects. The people of Puerto Rico have a right to live in a crime-free environment, and our children have the right to grow up without threats of fear and intimidation.”
If convicted, the defendants could face a minimum of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $10 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.