THIRTEEN CHARGED WITH FEDERAL MARIJUANA AND COCAINE CHARGES
Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England; United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Worcester County District Attorney John J. Conte; Colonel Thomas G. Robbins, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Peter Zegarac, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in New England; and Peter F. Roddy, Chief of the Leominster Police Department, announced that the following eleven individuals were arrested in a series of early-morning raids on Sunday, March 13, 2005, in Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, and California on a criminal complaint charging them with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine from approximately July 2004 to March 2005 in Massachusetts and elsewhere. In addition, five federal search warrants were executed simultaneously at four residences in Leominster and one residence in Fitchburg.
The following eleven individuals were arrested Sunday, March 13, 2005:
1. RIGOBERTO MORFIN-RODRIGUEZ, age 41, a citizen of Mexico residing at 615 Willard Street, Leominster, Massachusetts;
2. GILBERTO MORFIN-RODRIGUEZ, age 26, a citizen of Mexico residing at 45 Stephens Road, Leominster, Massachusetts;
3. JUAN M. VARGAS, age 24, of Tucson, Arizona;
4. JOSE NOEL VICTORIA, Jr., age 24, of West Covina, California;
5. TEODORO CARDENAS, age 49, a citizen of Mexico of 341 Union Street, Leominster, Massachusetts;
6. JOSE GALLARDO CARDENAS, age 31, of 341 Union Street, Leominster, Massachusetts;
7. OCTAVIANO VARGAS BARAJAS, age 35, of Tucson, Arizona;
8. JERRY T. HUNTER, age 26, residing at 30 North Main Parkway, Leominster, Massachusetts;
9. KERRY FELKER, age 43, of 320 Pleasant Street in Lewiston, Maine;
10. JESUS MENDOZA, age 31, of 47 Longwood Avenue, Fitchburg, Massachusetts; and
11. GEOVANE ROJAS, age 22, of 26 Linden Street in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
The following two individuals were charged in the same criminal complaint with participating in the drug trafficking conspiracy. They were arrested on March 3, 2005 on state narcotics charges and are currently incarcerated at the Worcester County House of Correction in lieu of bail.
12. MIGUEL ARTEAGA, age 32, a citizen of Mexico residing at 62 Frankfort Street, Fitchburg, Massachusetts; and
13. GUADALUPE JUAN ARTEAGA, age 30, a citizen of Mexico residing in Basin City, Washington.
An affidavit filed in support of the complaint and unsealed today alleges that the defendants were members of a drug trafficking organization based in Fitchburg and Leominster whose purposes were to distribute cocaine and marijuana in Massachusetts and elsewhere. From October 2004 to the present, acting pursuant to court-authorized wiretaps, the DEA intercepted numerous drug-related conversations occurring over four cellular telephones associated with an uncle and nephew - RIGOBERTO MORFIN-RODRIGUEZ and GILBERTO MORFIN-RODRIGUEZ. These conversations demonstrated that the defendants were involved in the ongoing business of obtaining large quantities of Mexican-grown marijuana from Arizona, transporting it to Massachusetts for distribution in New England, and then returning large sums of cash back to Arizona and Mexico. The conversations also revealed that the defendants were involved in obtaining and distributing large quantities of cocaine.
In November 2004, the DEA intercepted conversations revealing that the organization was in the process of transporting a load of marijuana from Arizona to Massachusetts. Law enforcement authorities stopped a tractor-trailer in Nevada as it was being driven eastbound on an interstate highway. During the stop, the police recovered approximately 355 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a false compartment inside the front of the trailer unit.
In December 2004, the DEA intercepted conversations revealing that the organization was in the process of transporting a load of cash from Massachusetts to Arizona. Law enforcement authorities stopped a Massachusetts-registered car as it drove westbound on an interstate highway in New York. During the stop, the police recovered approximately $209,000 wrapped in plastic and hidden inside a spare tire secured underneath the vehicle.
The DEA also intercepted many conversations revealing that HUNTER was a customer of the organization in Massachusetts and that FELKER was a customer of the organization in Maine. In early January 2005, the Massachusetts State Police stopped FELKER as he was driving southbound on Interstate Route 495 and recovered approximately $70,000 in cash secreted in the trunk of his vehicle. In mid-January 2005, the New Hampshire State Police stopped a vehicle as it was being driven by an associate of FELKER northbound on Interstate Route 95 in New Hampshire. During this stop, the police recovered approximately 100 pounds of marijuana secreted in the trunk. In late January 2005, the New Hampshire State Police stopped another vehicle as it was being driven by another associate of FELKER northbound on Interstate Route 95 in New Hampshire. During this stop, the police recovered approximately 48 pounds of marijuana secreted in the trunk.
In early March 2005, the DEA intercepted several conversations revealing that the organization was expecting to receive another load of marijuana from Arizona. Based on these conversations, DEA surveillance agents observed a tractor-trailer arrive at a residence in Westminster as well as further activity consistent with the unloading of the tractor-trailer. Based on this activity, on the night of March 2, 2005, the Massachusetts State Police stopped a van that had driven away from the Westminster location and that was being driven southbound on Interstate Route 495 on its way to Rhode Island. During this stop, the police recovered approximately 467 pounds of marijuana secreted inside the van and the driver of the van was arrested on state narcotics charges. In the early-morning hours of March 3, 2005, the State Police executed a state search warrant at the Westminster residence and recovered approximately 531 pounds of marijuana and two loaded handguns. The State Police arrested the four occupants of the residence, including MIGUEL ARTEAGA and GUADALUPE JUAN ARTEAGA, on state narcotics charges.
In connection with
Sunday morning’s arrests, the DEA executed
five federal search warrants in Massachusetts and an additional search
in Maine. The DEA recovered approximately 800 pounds of marijuana, over
$200,000 in cash, a sawed-off shotgun, and two handguns.
The case was investigated
by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in cooperation with the
Massachusetts State Police Gang Unit, the U.S.
Postal Inspection Service, the Fitchburg and Leominster Police Departments,
and the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office.