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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2005

Agency Contacts:
Orlando Rios
US Attorney’s Office
787-766-5656

Waldo Santiago
DEA
800-718-0781
  

A Task Force of Federal and State Agencies Arrested
Drug Traffickers Operating
in the Caribbean Region and Puerto Rico

Operation “Smugglers of the Caribbean” Produced 12 Arrests, Firearms Charges and More Than 7 Million Dollars in Forfeiture Allegations.

HH.S. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, and JEROME HARRIS, the Special Agent In Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), LUIS S. FRATICELLI, the Special Agent In Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), MARCIAL O. FELIX, the Resident Agent In Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (RAC), LYDIA ST. JOHN-MELLADO, the Acting Special Agent In Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), JOSE LOZADA, the Director of the Puerto Rico Special Investigations Bureau (NIE), and PEDRO TOLEDO, the Superintendent of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced that on August 9, 2005, a Federal Grand Jury returned six (6) indictments against twelve (12) drug traffickers operating in the caribbean region. The first indictment charges defendants JORGE A. PARET-RUIZ, EFRAIN SANTANA-ORTIZ, and ADALBERTO CORIANO-APONTE, with one (1) count of conspiracy to import into Puerto Rico five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine; and one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine. Forfeiture allegations were also charged in the indictment up to the amount of four million eighty five thousand dollars ($4,085,000.00) against real or personal properties related to the commission of the narcotics trafficking offenses. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a), 841(b)(1)(A), 846, 853, 952(a), 960(b)(1)(A), and 963.

The object of the conspiracy was to import cocaine into Puerto Rico from Antigua, British West Indies, and St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles, and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine in the District of Puerto Rico, for significant gain and profit. The defendants engaged in plans to ship cocaine from the aforementioned caribbean countries through the use of vessels. They also used veiled and coded references in the conversations to describe drug transactions, kept each other informed of the activities, planned future transactions and shared information about drug trafficking activities for the purpose of avoiding detection and ensuring the success of their criminal organization. As part of the conspiracy, the defendants arranged for and coordinated the pick-up of United States currency from the sale of narcotics.

Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).

The second indictment charges defendants DAVID MOLINA-PITRE and ADALBERTO CORIANO-APONTE with one (1) count of conspiracy to import into Puerto Rico five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine; and one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute the same amount of narcotics. Forfeiture allegations were also charged in the indictment up to the amount of one million one hundred thousand dollars ($1,100,000.00) against real or personal properties related to the commission of the aforementioned offenses. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a), 841(b)(1)(A), 846, 853, 952(a), 960(b)(1)(A), and 963.

The object of the conspiracy was to import cocaine into the United States from St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles, and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine in the District of Puerto Rico, for significant gain and profit. These defendants planned to carry out drug smuggling activities through the use of boats and utilized cellular telephones and beepers to further their narcotics transactions. They used veiled and coded references in the conversations to describe drug transactions and kept each other informed of the activities, planned future transactions and shared information about drug trafficking activities for the purpose of avoiding detection and ensuring the success of their criminal organization. This drug smuggling group arranged for and coordinated the pick-up of United States currency from the sale of narcotics.

Penalties for the narcotics offenses alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).

The third indictment charges defendants HIRAM D. MOLINA-SANTOS, HEIRY PANTOJAS-SOSTRE, NILDA MOLINA-MAYSONET, and FELIX F. RODRIGUEZ-BASSATT with one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute kilogram quantities of controlled substances, that is, five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine; one (1) count of possession, carry and use of one (1) Kahr .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol during and in relation to, or in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Forfeiture allegations were also included in the indictment up to the amount of one million nine hundred fifty thousand dollars ($1,950,000.00) against real or personal properties related to the commission of the aforementioned offenses. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 846, 853, and Title 18 United States Code, Sections 2, 922(d)(1), 924(c)(1)(ii) and 924(a)(2).

The object of the conspiracy was to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute, cocaine, cocaine base (commonly known as “crack” cocaine) and marihuana, at Vega Baja, Puerto Rico and at other locations in Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain and profit. The defendants purchased multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and cocaine base (“crack” cocaine) at wholesale prices and cooked part of the cocaine purchased and created cocaine base (crack), which was also packaged in small packages for subsequent sale. This group of drug smugglers used residences and other locations in order to conceal the drug trafficking proceeds and utilized cellular telephones and beepers to further the sale of narcotics. The defendants also possessed firearms in order to protect themselves and the drug points from others competing drug organizations.

Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).

The fourth indictment charges defendants PEDRO A. TOSADO-MORALES and HIRAM D. MOLINA-SANTOS with one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and distribute measurable amounts of heroin; and one (1) count of possession with intent to distribute heroin. Forfeiture allegations were also charged in the indictment up to the amount of fifty two thousand five hundred dollars ($52,500.00) against real or personal properties related to the commission of the aforementioned offenses. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 841(b)(1)(B), 846 and 853.

The object of the conspiracy was to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute heroin and cocaine base (crack cocaine), at Vega Baja, Puerto Rico and at other locations in Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain and profit. The defendants purchased measurable amounts of heroin and cocaine base (crack cocaine) at wholesale prices for subsequent sale and used their residences and other locations to store and package the narcotics. This group utilized cellular telephones and beepers to further the sale of narcotics and possessed firearms in order to protect themselves and the narcotics from other competing drug organizations and from law enforcement officers.

Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).

The fifth indictment charges defendants JORGE R. PARET-TORRES and FRANCISCO RUIZ-MAYSONET with one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute heroin; and one (1) count of possession with intent to distribute heroin. Forfeiture allegations were also charged in the indictment up to the amount of three hundred eighty six thousand dollars ($386,000.00) against real or personal properties related to the commission of the aforementioned offenses. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2, and Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), 846 and 853(a)(1).

The object of the conspiracy was to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute heroin, at Vega Baja, Puerto Rico and at other locations, for significant financial gain and profit. The defendants purchased measurable amounts of heroin at wholesale prices for subsequent sale and used their residences and other locations to store and package the narcotics in order to conceal the drug trafficking proceeds. They also used cellular telephones and beepers to further the sale of narcotics.

Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from five (5) years to forty (40) years of imprisonment and fines up to two million dollars ($2,000,000.00).

The sixth indictment charges defendants ROBERTO E. BAEZ-MELENDEZ and DAVID MOLINA-PITRE with one (1 ) count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and distribute heroin and cocaine. Forfeiture allegations were also charged in the indictment up to the amount of one hundred sixty six thousand dollars ($166,000.00) against real or personal properties related to the commission of the aforementioned offenses. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 846 and 853(a)(1).

The object of the conspiracy was to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute heroin and cocaine, at Carolina, Puerto Rico and at other locations in Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain and profit. The defendants purchased multi-kilogram quantities of heroin and cocaine at wholesale prices for subsequent sale and used their residences and other locations in order to conceal the drug trafficking proceeds. They also utilized cellular telephones and beepers to further the sale of narcotics.

Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).

Operation “Smugglers of the Caribbean” is a joint investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Puerto Rico Special Investigations Bureau (NIE), and the Puerto Rico Police Department PRPD) into the drug trafficking operations of twelve (2) defendants operating in small groups throughout the Caribbean region and Puerto Rico.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Puerto Rico Special Investigations Bureau (NIE), the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Warren Vázquez.

 

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