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Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Arrests 10 Individuals Indicted for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
Defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of $127 million

JUL 22 (SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) – On July 16, 2014, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against 10 defendants charged with distribution of a controlled substance for purpose of unlawful importation, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.  Drug Enforcement Administration is in charge of the investigation.

The indictment charges 10 individuals with conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally distribute and cause the distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine, intending and knowing that such cocaine would be unlawfully imported to the United States, all for significant financial gain and profit. The defendants are: Javier Carrillo, aka “Cara Ancha,” “Ojos Lindos;” Alex Rudolph Antonio Reed, aka “Feo;” José Ángel Burgos-Rodríguez, aka “Che,” “Dragoncito;” Héctor Manuel Pérez-Arizmendi, aka “Cachete;” José Miguel Rodríguez; Carlos Gilberto Miranda-Ríos, aka “El Gordo;” Delfin Robles-Álvarez, aka “El Indio;” Nelson Tomas Feliciano-Collazo, Wilfredo Eli Rivera-Zayas; and Julio Mejía-Leyva.
  
The indictment alleges that beginning in 2005, the organization distributed wholesale and retail amounts of cocaine throughout Puerto Rico and continental United States. The defendants would obtain large amounts of cocaine in Saint Martin, Netherlands Antilles, which was then transported to Puerto Rico on board maritime vessels, commercial cargo planes, and private aircraft. They would also transport large sums of U.S. currency via aircraft and motor vessel to Saint Martin for the purchase of large quantities of cocaine and use the blackberry messenger application as well as other means of communication to communicate with each other.

According to the indictment, in or about the year 2010, the defendants conspired to transport more than $12,000,000 in United States currency from Puerto Rico to Saint Martin, Netherland Antilles, knowing that the monetary instruments of funds involved in the transportation represented the proceeds of dealing in controlled substances.
Some of the defendants also laundered drug proceeds through the Puerto Rico Lottery. As part of the manner and means of this money laundering conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators had a point of contact within the Puerto Rico Lottery who would corruptly offer winning lottery tickets before they were claimed. Burgos-Rodríguez, Miranda-Ríos and Robles-Álvarez would purchase the winning lottery tickets with proceeds from the cocaine sales, for the price of the winning ticket plus a twenty percent commission. The defendants would redeem the winning ticket as though it had always been their own.  The lottery would then issue a check for the winning amount to the co-conspirator who claimed the ticket, who could then deposit the check in their bank account as actual earned income, thereby laundering the underlying drug proceeds.

In addition to the money judgment of $127 million the defendants are facing, they have to forfeit a property located at Barrio Hato Tejas, Bayamón, PR; and two airplanes, an Aerostar-601 and a Cessna 340A.

“This drug trafficking organization was involved in a conspiracy to traffic massive quantities of illegal drugs into the United States,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “These arrests demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to hold ruthless cartel leaders responsible for importing narcotics into the United States – no matter where they conduct their illegal business.  Along with our domestic and international law enforcement partners, we will ensure that cartel members and associates are brought to justice for the damage they inflict on both sides of the border.”

“DEA will continue to investigate, disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating out of Colombian and other parts of South America using the Caribbean Region as a transshipment point to smuggle narcotics into the United States,” said Pedro Janer, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Caribbean Division.  
 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mariana Bauzá is in charge of the prosecution of the case.  If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years up to life in prison.  Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt.  Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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