FEDERAL GRAND JURY INDICTS ADDITIONAL MEMBERS OF COCAINE DISTRIBUTION ORGANIZATION
A federal grand jury sitting in East St. Louis, has returned a superseding indictment this week, adding three defendants and four counts to an indictment which was originally returned on March 23, 2011, which charged twenty-three individuals with being members of a large cocaine distribution organization, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge and is entitled to a fair trial at which the Government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Raul Gonzalez-Gonzalez, also known as Raul Martin Ortega-Zepada, 23, of Breckenridge Hills, MO; Jaime Tadeo Hernandez, 36, of Granite City, IL; and Homero Hernandez-Vega, 31, of St. Ann, MO; were all charged with Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine. The alleged conspiracy carries potential maximum penalties of ten years to life imprisonment, a $4,000,000 fine and at least five years of supervised release.
In addition, Jose Garcia, 24, of Granite City, IL, who was charged with the Conspiracy count in the original indictment, and Homero Hernadez-Vega, were each charged with an additional count of Entry Into the United States without Inspection. The new immigration offense carries a possible maximum sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment, a $5,000 fine and up to one year of supervised release. Hernandez-Vega was also charged with Possession With the Intent to Distribute Cocaine, which carries a potential maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine and at least three years of supervised release.
In addition to the criminal counts, the new indictment contains a forfeiture allegation, which seeks the forfeiture of the $470,126.00 of United States currency seized during the investigation of this case, an automobile, firearms, and drug proceeds of $9,000,000.
Evidence in support of the indictment was obtained in an investigation which was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF initiative is designed to bring federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and resources together to identify, target and dismantle large national and international drug trafficking organizations. Participating agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Marshal Service, the Granite City Police Department, Fairmont City Police Department, Collinsville Police Department, Fairview Heights Police Department, Caseyville Police Department, Pontoon Beach Police Department, Park Hills (Missouri) Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and the Illinois State Police. This case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Randy G. Massey for prosecution.