Defendant from La Tómbola Case Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison
SAN JUAN, PR – Carmelo Rondón-Feliciano was sentenced today to 262 months in prison by United States District Court Judge José A. Fusté. On November 7, 2012, Rondón-Feliciano pled guilty to violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). Particularly, Rondón-Feliciano admitted that for at least ten years between 1993 and 2003, he participated in a pattern of racketeering activity through his drug trafficking organization. The reprehensible criminal acts perpetrated by his group included 12 murders between 1996 and 2001 that were directed or committed by co-defendant Alexis Candelario-Santana in furtherance of or in the protection of the drug trafficking organization, as well as the illicit trafficking of cocaine base (crack), cocaine, heroin and marihuana, announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez and Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The evidence at Candelario-Santana’s trial established that Rondón-Feliciano became Candelario-Santana’s right hand man beginning in 1996 when Candelario-Santana took control of the drug trafficking organization at Palo de Goma, Sabana Seca, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Rondón-Feliciano continued his leadership role in the organization even after Candelario-Santana was arrested and charged in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico with 12 murders in 2002. While Candelario-Santana was incarcerated, Rondón-Feliciano continued to run the organization and sent Candelario-Santana profits from the organization’s drug points until 2005-06, when the men had a dispute over the drug profits. Rondón-Feliciano then attempted to run the organization on his own.
In 2006, Rondón-Feliciano became the target of a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation. This investigation led to Rondón-Feliciano’s September 25, 2006, arrest after the execution of a search warrant at Las Brisas, where law enforcement authorities recovered an armory of weapons belonging to the drug trafficking organization (including AK-47-type assault weapons, numerous semiautomatic weapons, extended magazines -- some capable of firing 100 rounds or more without being reloaded -- and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition), as well as a large quantity of heroin and cocaine. Rondón-Feliciano was charged in the District of Puerto Rico.
Co-defendant Alexis Candelario-Santana was convicted by a jury on March 23rd. According to the evidence presented at Candelario-Santana’s trial, from approximately 1993 through 2003, the drug trafficking organization operated principally in Sabana Seca, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. The organization purchased its drugs in bulk, processed and packaged the drugs and sold them at Sabana Seca through numerous sellers, runners and enforcers under Candelario-Santana’s control. The organization sold crack, cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and members of the organization routinely possessed firearms in order to protect the drug points. In addition, the evidence introduced at trial established that, between 1995 and 2001, Candelario-Santana either personally killed, or ordered others to kill, 13 individuals whom he viewed as threats to his drug trafficking organization or as being disloyal members of his drug trafficking organization. Candelario-Santana was also convicted of the October 17, 2009, murder of eight people and an unborn child and attempting to murder 19 others during a mass shooting at a Puerto Rico pub in what became known as the “La Tombola Massacre.” As a result of his conviction, Candelario-Santana will be sentenced to life in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.
“The Rondon-Feliciano drug trafficking organization controlled the neighborhoods in the Sabana Seca area, spreading violence and fear in this community,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Justice has been served. The public welfare has been protected. This outstanding result was achieved through the collaboration of all of our law enforcement partners, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division’s Capital Case Unit.”
The case was investigated by FBI, and PRPD, with the collaboration of DEA, ATF, US Postal Inspectors, Instituto de Ciencias Forenses and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, and prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney María Dominguez-Victoriano, Assistant United States Attorney Marcela Mateo and Trial Attorney Bruce R. Hegyi of the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Unit.