News and Press Releases

45 DEFENDANTS CHARGED ON GUN, DRUG TRAFFICKING AND RELATED OFFENSES FOLLOWING UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2013

Undercover ATF agents purchased, seized 189 firearms during “Operation Pulaski”

SAVANNAH, GA – 17 federal indictments, unsealed today in federal court, have charged 33 defendants with federal firearm, drug trafficking or other federal offenses.  Four defendants were charged by Chatham County authorities on state firearm and drug offenses.   Additionally, eight defendants were previously indicted and prosecuted in 2012.  All of the federal and state charges derive from a lengthy undercover investigation dubbed “Operation Pulaski.”      
                 
The United States Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD) initiated Operation Pulaski in late 2011.  During the operation, undercover ATF agents purchased guns and drugs from multiple criminal organizations whose scope ranged from regional to international.  The undercover agents were able to infiltrate these organizations over a period of time, ultimately purchasing 189 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, sawed-off shotguns and machine guns; illegal drugs, including over 200 grams of heroin and more than 4 kilograms of cocaine; and stolen vehicles.  The investigation revealed that the vehicles were stolen in the New York City area and then transported to the southeastern United States for resale or for shipment abroad for resale.  Agents worked in cooperation with the National Insurance Crime Bureau for the return or re-designation of the automobiles recovered in the investigation.  26 of the individuals who sold firearms and drugs to the undercover agents are alleged to be convicted felons.  11 of the individuals investigated are believed to be illegal aliens.  In addition, a number of the guns purchased by undercover agents were previously reported stolen.

United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver stated, “The Department of Justice works tirelessly to protect the personal safety and the property of its citizens.  Operation Pulaski was a relentless effort to remove illegal guns from the streets of our communities and to halt the illegal sale of guns, especially where the transactions were being conducted by violent criminals.  This undercover operation serves as notice to the criminal element that if you traffic in firearms, drugs, or stolen cars in this district, you will be apprehended and you will be prosecuted.”
                                                           
“This operation is the essence of great law enforcement collaboration and teamwork in removing illegal firearms and narcotics from our communities,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Christopher Shaefer. “ATF and our law enforcement partners stay committed to identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting dangerous criminals and this investigation exemplifies this commitment.”

SCMPD Chief Willie Lovett said, “The success of Operation Pulaski was achieved through the coordinated efforts of Metro, the U.S. Attorney and ATF and that cooperation of the three agencies will continue in other operations. The numbers of guns, stolen vehicles and drugs seized in Pulaski are more than significant; they are staggering, considering the criminal history of most of those arrested. I have no doubt those weapons would have been used against innocent victims and the drugs would have ruined lives. We are very appreciative of the agencies that helped make this possible and look forward to this continued relationship.”    
Mr. Tarver praised the exemplary partnership between the ATF and the Savannah-Chatham County Metropolitan Police Department, and noted that additional investigative support was provided by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including Customs and Border Patrol, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and the United States Secret Service.

Following numerous arrests on Tuesday, June 18, and Wednesday, June 19, initial appearances for several of the federally indicted defendants will be held in United States District Court, Statesboro, Georgia, on June 20, 2013. A listing of the 33 defendants newly indicted on federal charges is attached.                                              

Mr. Tarver stressed that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Assistant United States Attorneys Cameron Heaps Ippolito and T. Shane Mayes are prosecuting the federal cases for the United States. 

For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

 

Operation Pulaski Defendants

NAME

AGE

HOMETOWN

Alejandro Jorge Barrero-Rojas

29

Bolivia

Akeem Jamal Edwards

22

Savannah, GA

Alvon Mitchell

33

Savannah, GA

Anthony Solis-Reyes

25

Honduran National

Augustin Rubio-Garcia

31

Hardeeville, SC

Cedric Austin

26

Savannah, GA

Demetrius Mumford

28

Savannah, GA

Derrick Stephens

35

Atlanta, GA

Eduardo Cruz-Camacho

32

Savannah, GA

Naquan Trell Elliot

19

Savannah, GA

Eric Dyches

41

Savannah, GA

Hermino Garcia-Rodriguez

25

Garden City, GA

Gustavo Reyes-Sosa

25

Bluffton, SC

Herbert Carter

31

Savannah, GA

Javier Garcia-Rodriguez

29

Garden City, GA

Javier Murillo-Solis

32

Hilton Head, SC

Jeffrey Barnes

50

Savannah, GA

Juan Zapien-Pacheco

26

Hardeeville, SC

Leonardo Moreno-Romero

23

Hardeeville, SC

Luis Alonso

34

Hardeeville, SC

Markus Brown

29

Savannah, GA

Martin Anguiano

45

Ridgeland, SC

Maximigo Ortega

34

Savannah, GA

Michael Holsey

21

Savannah, GA

Miguel Hernandez-Landeros

26

Garden City, GA

Mikael Oliver

18

Savannah, GA

Sonny Vasquez

28

Bluffton, SC

Tyreik Watson

34

Savannah, GA

Walis Parra-Reyes

31

Bluffton, SC

Wendell Brantley

35

Bluffton, SC

Reginald Black

20

Garden City, GA

Roberto Barrero

45

Bolivia

Matthew Vasquez

22

Savannah, GA

 

 

 

 

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