MARCH 22 (SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) – On March 20, 2013, a federal grand jury indicted 62 individuals in four separate indictments as the result of investigations led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced today by United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The United States Postal Inspectors and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau also participated during the investigation and the arrests.
The first indictment charges 44 individuals in a six-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising the Trina Padilla de Sanz, Bella Vista, Ramón Marín Solá and Manuel Zeno Gandía Public Housing Projects (collectively referred to as “El Cotto”) in the municipality of Arecibo. The object of the conspiracy was to distribute “crack” (cocaine base), cocaine, marihuana and Alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax) at “El Cotto” and in other areas nearby within the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain and profit.
According to the indictment, from on or about the year 2004, the defendants conspired to purchase wholesale quantities of cocaine, heroin, marihuana and Xanax in order to distribute the same in street quantity amounts at the different drug points in “El Cotto” and in other areas of Arecibo. The main leader of the organization was Héctor Miranda-Rivera, aka “Ufo.” The other leaders were: Miguel Villanueva Lorenzo, aka “Tatito;” Fabian López-Mercado, aka “Fabi;” Eduardo Serrano-Rodríguez, aka “Eduard Dientu;” José Román-Rodríguez, aka “Chonono;” Esteban León-Mundo, aka “Steven;” Reynaldo Martínez-González, aka “Reysito;” Luis Pérez-Orta, aka “Gemi;” Edwin Olmo-Rodríguez, aka “Poco Pello;” Yamil Ocasio-González; and Harry Reyes-Estremera, aka “Grilli.”
According to the indictment, the 44 co-conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy. These were: 11 leaders; drug owners; three suppliers; four runners; six enforcers; 19 sellers and one facilitator. The defendants are facing a narcotics forfeiture allegation of $10 million.
Count six of the indictment charges López-Mercado and Alejandro Pérez-González with knowingly and intentionally using a communication facility, that is the United States Postal Service, to facilitate the commission of acts constituting a felony - trafficking marihuana.
The second indictment charges 16 individuals in a four-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising the Antonio Márquez Arbona Public Housing Project, a housing facility owned by a public housing authority and other areas nearby and within the municipality of Arecibo. According to the indictment, from on or about the year 2004, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute crack, cocaine, marihuana and Xanax at the Housing Project for significant financial gain and profit.
The indictment alleges that, as part of the manner and means of the conspiracy, the co-conspirators would routinely possess, carry, brandish and use firearms to protect themselves and their drug trafficking organization. The 16 co-conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy. These were: four leaders- Luis Díaz-Natal, aka “Chencho;” Jesús Acosta-Millet, aka “Lalo;” Juan Pérez-Morales, aka “Charry,” “Joker;” and Jorge Sánchez-Pérez, aka “Joey;” drug owners; two runners; enforcers; 10 sellers and facilitators. The defendants are facing a narcotics forfeiture allegation of $5 million.
Defendants Jorge Cintrón-Cordero, aka “Ogy” and Edwin De León-Ithier, aka “Edwin Trabuco” are charged in two separate indictments for knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute crack.
“These arrests confirm the Justice Department’s commitment to hold ruthless drug traffickers responsible for selling narcotics and promoting the violence we are seeing in our communities,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue with our efforts of investigating and prosecuting drug trafficking organizations, until we have covered every municipality in Puerto Rico.”
“These arrests stand as a warning to those individuals whose greed drives them to pollute our communities and schools with poisonous drugs. Our message to drug vendors and those responsible for the loss of innocent by standards – deal at your own risk. We are going to continue investigating those who have no respect for life and maintain our communities captives.” said Pedro Janer, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Caribbean Division.
“The United States Postal Inspection Service is committed to protect the US Mail from criminal misuse. We remain vigilant and continue to work to ensure those who utilize the US Mail as a means to transport contraband are brought before justice,” said Delany De León, Team Leader Postal Inspector, USPIS Newark Division/ San Juan Field Office. “Today we can see the results of our vigilance, our efforts, and our law enforcement partnerships. We have successfully identified, disrupted, and dismantled another dangerous Drug Trafficking Organization.”
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of the Narcotics Unit Timothy Henwood.
If convicted, the defendants 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. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.