9 Individuals Indicted And Arrested For Drug Trafficking In The Municipality Of Ponce
Defendants face a forfeiture allegation of one million dollars
SAN JUAN, PR – On Wednesday, July 24, a federal grand jury indicted 9 individuals as the result of an investigation led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
The indictment charges 9 individuals in a two-count indictment with possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances at the “Méndez Vigo” area, located within the municipality of Ponce. The object of the conspiracy was to distribute “crack” (cocaine base), cocaine, marihuana and heroin for significant financial gain and profit.
The defendants are: Leonardo Lizardi-Muñiz, aka “Pichu;” Reynaldo Lizardi-Muñiz, aka “Rey;” Mariano Maldonado-Muñiz, aka “Marianito;” Jayson Rentas-Muñiz, aka “Jayson;” José L. Rinaldi-Vélez, aka “Joseito;” Jorge Rivera-Rivera, aka “El Mono;” Elvin Román-Díaz, aka “Piojillo;” Omar Sotomayor-Sepúlveda, aka “Omaro;” and José A. Villodas-Chamorro, aka “Villoda.”
According to the indictment, the defendants would possess, carry, brandish, discharge and use firearms to protect themselves and their drug trafficking activities. They would routinely wear bullet proof vests in order to protect themselves during “shootouts” with rival drug traffickers.
“These arrests confirm the Justice Department’s commitment to hold ruthless drug traffickers responsible for selling narcotics and promoting the violence we are seeing in our communities,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue with our efforts of investigating and prosecuting drug trafficking organizations, until we have covered every municipality in Puerto Rico.”
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Kelly Zenón and is part of the US Attorney’s Office Firearms and Violence Reduction Initiative.
If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of fifteen (15) years of imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $10 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.