MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY CHARGES SIX INDIVIDUALS WITH PARTICIPATING IN BRONX-BASED ILLEGAL PRESCRIPTION PILL DISTRIBUTION RING
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday April 11, 2012
More than 120,000 Thousand Prescription Pills Recovered During Searches, Including Several Thousand Stored at a Children’s Daycare Center
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Wilbert L. Plummer, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Ronald J. Verrochio, the Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), and James T. Hayes, Jr., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the arrests of RAFAEL VARGAS, RAFAEL VARGAS-TAVERAS, DORIS GUERRERO, INGRID NAVEDO, RAFAEL ALFONSO VARGAS, and DORKIS GONZALEZ for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam. The defendants allegedly participated in a ring that distributed these drugs as well as several other prescription drugs to buyers across the United States. The oxycodone was distributed in a form commonly known as “Percocet,” and the alprazolam in a form commonly known as “Xanax.”
During the execution of search warrants this morning at four locations in the Bronx, New York, DEA agents recovered approximately 122,000 pills, including Percocet, Xanax, Ecstasy, Viagra, and phentermine, a weight loss drug. Several thousands of these pills were found in NAVEDO’s apartment, in which she also operated a daycare center. Additional pills, packaging materials, shipping labels, and envelopes were recovered at the other residences that were searched.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, these six defendants operated a veritable pill mill, making tens of thousands of highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs available for the asking. And the charged conduct was especially dangerous, as the defendants potentially victimized young children whose unsuspecting parents sent them to a daycare center that allegedly doubled as a warehouse for thousands of their illegal pills. Selling narcotics is a deadly serious business, and as today’s arrests demonstrate, we are deadly serious about punishing those who engage in this conduct.”
Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Wilbert L. Plummer said: “The arrests today serve as a reminder of the pervasive challenges presented by prescription drug abuse and crime, and that DEA and our partners will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute these cases.”
USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Ronald J. Verrochio said: “The arrests today in this case are another example of how the Postal Inspectors will identify and arrest any individuals or groups who use the mails as a vehicle to transport illegal drugs.”
ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes, Jr. said: “Illicitly traded pharmaceutical drugs expose the public to a whole host of unacceptable dangers. Today’s arrests were made possible through law enforcement cooperation seeking to end the unlawful trade of prescription drugs.”
The following allegations are based on the Complaints filed in connection with the case:
From October 2011 through at least April 2012, the six defendants worked together to send Percocet, Xanax, a Schedule I controlled substance sold in a form commonly known as MDMA or Ecstasy, and phentermine, a Schedule IV controlled substance, via the U.S. mails and private shipping companies from locations in the Bronx, New York, to various addresses throughout the United States. VARGAS and his co-codefendants directed the recipients of the pills to send money orders or cash to bank accounts he and his son VARGAS-TAVERAS controlled. In one transaction, VARGAS obtained approximately $4,800 in cash from a confidential informant working with the DEA in exchange for 400 Percocet pills.
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VARGAS, VARGAS-TAVERAS, and GUERRERO, all of Bronx, New York, are charged together in one Complaint with one count of conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws of the United States. VARGAS and VARGAS-TAVERAS are also charged with a second count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. The Complaint, which was filed in Manhattan federal court on Monday, April 9, 2012, charges that the controlled substances involved in the offense were oxycodone and alprazolam. Upon conviction, they face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
NAVEDO, ALFONSO VARGAS, and GONZALEZ, all of the Bronx, New York, are charged together in a separate Complaint with one count of conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws of the United States. The Complaint, which was filed today in Manhattan federal court, charges that the controlled substances involved in the offense were oxycodone, alprazolam, MDMA/Ecstasy, and phentermine. Upon conviction, they face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative efforts of the DEA, USPIS, and ICE HSI.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fee is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.