TWENTY-FIVE DEFENDANTS FROM PALM BEACH, HIGHLANDS, HENDRY AND LEE COUNTIES CHARGED WITH NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING IN PROJECT DELIVERANCE
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, John Morton, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), E.J. Picolo, Special Agent in Charge of the Fort Myers Regional Operations Center of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and Susan Benton, Sheriff, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, announce the unsealing of a fifty-four count indictment against twenty-five defendants, charging them with narcotics trafficking in connection with their participation in a conspiracy to possess and distribute multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine. The charges announced today are part of a national operation and coordinated takedown, known as Project Deliverance. The South Florida investigation, which commenced in August 2009, is known locally as Operation Mexican Minute.
This coordinated takedown is part of the Department of Justice’s Southwest Border Strategy, announced in March 2009, which uses federal prosecutor-led task forces that bring together federal, state and local law enforcement to identify, disrupt and dismantle the Mexican drug cartels through investigation, prosecution and extradition of their key leaders and facilitators, and the seizure and forfeiture of their assets. Through continued joint cooperation at all levels of the U.S. and Mexican governments, the Department of Justice and its partners are actively working to stem the flow of illegal narcotics, weapons and bulk cash moving across the U.S./Mexico border.
The South Florida indictment charges the following defendants:
• Joseli Davila, age 36, of Boynton Beach, FL;
• Placido Martinez-Resendiz, age 23, of West Palm Beach, FL;
• Edgar Orosco, age 24, of Lake Placid, FL;
• Jose Guadalupe Resenitz-Ordona, age 31, of Boynton Beach, FL;
• John Doe, age 37, of Boynton Beach, FL;
• Cesar Ramos Alvarado, age 37, of West Palm Beach, FL;
• Oscar Ramos, age 22, of Lake Placid, FL;
• Armando Resendiz, age 28, of Lake Placid, FL;
• Cesar Fortanel, age 29, of La Belle, FL;
• Salvador Ramos Alvarado, age 26, of Delray Beach, FL;
• Ivan Camacho Hernandez, age 26, of Lake Worth, FL;
• Vicente Fortanel, age 23, of La Belle, FL;
• Angel Zavala Soto, age 30,of Palm Beach Gardens, FL;
• J Guadalupe Garcia-Landaverde, age 38, of West Palm Beach, FL;
• Ricardo Perez-Figueroa, age 37, of West Palm Beach, FL;
• Gerardo Martinez, age 23, of Lake Placid, FL;
• Sulema Salcedo Chavez, age 21, of Lake Placid, FL;
• Enrique Garcia Redon, age 23, of Lehigh Acres, FL;
• Bladimir Lopez, age 25, of West Palm Beach, FL;
• Timothy Isaguirre, age 30, of West Palm Beach, FL;
• Jorge Herrera Luviano, age 30, of Lake Worth, FL;
• Israel Villanueva, age 32, of Lakeland, FL;
• Alejandro Becerra, age 23, of Lake Placid, FL;
• Victor Olvera, age 27, of Lake Placid, FL; and
• Gregory Rivera, age 30, of Boynton Beach, FL.
The indictment charges all twenty-five defendants with conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine from August 2009 through June 2010, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 (Count 1). The indictment also charges various individual defendants with distribution and possession with intent to distribute both powder cocaine and crack cocaine on specific dates, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841 (Counts 2-54 ). In addition, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of property constituting or derived from the proceeds of the defendants’ drug trafficking.
Sixteen of the twenty-five defendants were arrested on June 6 and 7, 2010, and made their initial appearances in federal court before Magistrate Judge Ann E. Vitunac. Two are in state custody, and seven defendants remain at large. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Donald D. Middlebrooks.
Operation Mexican Minute is a cooperative federal, state, and local law enforcement investigation, approved and funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a national DOJ program that supports investigations of significant multi-state and international drug trafficking organizations. This investigation has resulted locally in the seizure of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, including one seizure of ten and another seizure of six kilograms of powder cocaine, the seizure of more than $150,000 in cash, four cars, and various firearms. According to information developed during the investigation, this group operated from Broward, Palm Beach, and Highlands Counties in the Southern District of Florida, and Hendry County in the Middle District of Florida.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Simply put, today’s announcement would not be possible without the cooperation of federal, state and local law enforcement. By working together, we exponentially multiply our resources and refocus our commitment to fight crime on a local and even a national level. Project Deliverance confirms the success that can be achieved through such cooperation.”
“Project Deliverance identified and dismantled a group of Mexican drug traffickers distributing multi-kilograms of cocaine per month. These traffickers were able to create significant transportation routes from Mexico to the residents of Florida,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Miami Field Division Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville.
“This investigation represents one of the most powerful attacks the US government has launched against criminal organizations smuggling narcotics, weapons and cash across our borders,” said John Morton, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. “The results of Project Deliverance clearly demonstrate the combined strength that federal agencies bring to bear in the battle against cartels.”
E.J. Picolo, Special Agent in Charge of the Fort Myers Regional Operations Center of the FDLE, stated, “FDLE is pleased to have partnered with Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, DEA, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, ICE, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office on this important investigation. I am proud of the results, and the cases impact not only in Highlands County, but much of South Florida. We look forward to continuing our combined efforts.”
Sheriff Susan Benton, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, also praised the coordinated effort, saying, “This dedicated team of law enforcement professionals, without regard for rank or jurisdictional boundaries or agency, worked long days and long hours conducting a nearly year-long investigation. Our communities should be proud of the results of this cooperative action. The leadership displayed by the U.S. Attorney's office resulted in tremendous enthusiasm among our agents and deputies, which further ensured these offenders would be apprehended and prosecuted and our citizens safer as a result.”
If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years to life on the conspiracy charge and between 20 to 40 years on each count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the DEA, ICE, FDLE, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Delray Police Department, the Boca Raton Police Department, the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance in this matter. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia L. Diaz and Jennifer Millien.
The investigative efforts in Project Deliverance were coordinated by the multi-agency Special Operations Division, comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, ICE, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service and ATF, as well as attorneys from the Criminal Division's Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, and local U.S. Attorneys Offices around the country. More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Project Deliverance through OCDETFs.
Arrests were made and/or charges have been unsealed related to Project Deliverance in the following districts: District of Arizona, Eastern District of California, Southern District of California, District of Colorado, Southern District of Florida, Northern District of Georgia, Northern District of Illinois, District of Maryland, Eastern District of Missouri, District of Montana, District of Nevada, District of New Mexico, Northern District of New York, Southern District of New York, Western District of North Carolina, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Western District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee, Southern District of Texas, Western District of Texas, Eastern District of Virginia and the Western District of Washington.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.