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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2005

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

Waldo Santiago
DEA
800-718-0781
  

OCDETF Operation No Man’s Land
DEA HIDTA Ponce RO Investigation Targets Members of a Violent Drug Trafficking Organization Based in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico
The Investigation Conducted under the U.S. Attorney’s Office Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative Produces Indictment of 66 Defendants

Drugs seized as part of Operation No Man's Land

H.S. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, JEROME HARRIS, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and PEDRO TOLEDO, the Superintendent of the Police of Puerto Rico (PRPD) , announced that on December 12, 2005, a Federal Grand Jury returned an indictment against sixty-six (66) members of a violent drug trafficking organization. The indictment charges LUIS ENRIQUE SANTIAGO-BAEZ, aka “EL Loco,” PEDRO CORREA-RODRIGUEZ, aka “Pedrito,” JUAN CARRION-TORRES, aka “Juano,” JASON REYES-MIRANDA, aka “Jason,” EMMANUEL ZAYAS-ORTIZ, aka “Mamel,” ANGEL LUIS MARTINEZ-CORREA, aka “El Viejo,” JOSE O. CINTRON-ORTIZ, aka “Chelo,” ILEANA SANTIAGO-BAEZ, CARLOS J. TORRES-ORTIZ, aka “Carlos Cayuca,” JOSE A. COSME-GARCIA, aka “Tyson,” MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ-MALDONADO, aka “Michelo,” AZMAVET RODRIGUEZ-AQUINO, aka “Amavet,” and LUIS D. MATEO-CRUZ, aka “Danny Monito,” leaders/organizers and managers of this drug trafficking organization, along with fifty-three (53) additional co-defendants, with one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of narcotics. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846, 841(a)(1), 841 (b)(1)(A)and 846.

Federal and state law enforcement agents assigned to the DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Ponce Resident Office (RO) engaged in the investigation of this violent drug trafficking organization operating in the area of Ponce and Santa Isabel. The DEA HIDTA Ponce RO investigation was conducted under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative. This new federal initiative combines the assets and resources of the HIDTA and the OCDETF and implements intensive joint federal and state multi-agency law enforcement operations in order to eradicate violent and drug related crimes from the municipalities of Ponce, and surrounding areas of Southern Puerto Rico. Cases resulting from this initiative will be ultimately prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in federal court.

The indictment alleges that this criminal organization engaged in the distribution of cocaine, cocaine base (crack cocaine), heroin, and marijuana at ten (10) different drug points located in and around and outside Santa Isabel and Ponce, Puerto Rico namely: Antigua Vía Ward; El Cocal Ward; La Jauca Ward; Paso Seco Ward; Pedro M. Descarte Public Housing Project; Peñuelas Ward; Dr. Pila Public Housing Project; Playita Cortada Ward; Rincón Taíno Public Housing Project and Velázquez Ward, for significant gain and profit.


The manner and means by which the co-defendants accomplished the objects of the conspiracy included among others the following: owners and managers of the drug points obtained authorization from the leader of the organization in order to manage the different drug distribution points. The leader of the organization received compensation, such as rental payments, in exchange for his authorization to operate the drug distribution points; the conspirators used residences and other locations to store, process, package and sell the drugs and to conceal drug trafficking proceeds and also used veiled and coded references in conversations to describe drug transactions; they 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 venture; they used aliases and other means to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities; arranged for and coordinated the pick-up of United States currency from the sale of narcotics and other dangerous drugs (“drug proceeds”); possessed firearms in order to protect themselves, their drugs, and their drug proceeds from other competing drug organizations; they possessed and distributed controlled substances and possessed firearms inside and within a distance of one thousand (1,000) feet from housing facilities owned by a public housing authority, namely, the Rincón Taíno Public Housing Project, the Pedro M. Descarte Public Housing Project and the Dr. Pila Public Housing Project in Santa Isabel and Ponce; distributed or possessed with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public elementary school; and beat and killed individuals who stole money and narcotics or who interfered with the operations of the drug points.

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 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 is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Judith Vargas and Warren Vazquez
.
United States Attorney H.S. García stated: “This is the second case indicted, and the largest so far, under the Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative. This joint effort represents our commitment with the citizens of Ponce, and surrounding municipalities, in reducing and subsequently eliminating the high incidence of violent crimes in the southern area. The US Attorney’s Office is taking extraordinary measures to protect law abiding citizens and their families from violent criminals in the island. As part of this strategy, our office is reducing, temporarily; the prosecution guidelines in order to investigate and prosecute those crimes of violence that otherwise would have not been prosecuted in the federal jurisdiction.”

The Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative will investigate and prosecute the following violent crimes: drug trafficking, carjacking, illegal use of firearms, and robberies. This initiative will place emphasis on felons previously convicted for the aforementioned crimes. The following federal and state law enforcement agencies participate in the Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative: the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the PRPD, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.

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