Three Members Of “La Onu” Found Guilty For Rico Act Conspiracy
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Today, after 12 days of jury trial, three members of La ONU, Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino aka Bernard, Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo aka Danny KX, Danny Vorki and Ramón Lanza-Vázquez aka Ramoncito, were found guilty of drug trafficking and murder charges. Namely, violations to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity (VICAR), use of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of firearms by prohibited persons, announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The United States District Court Judge José A. Fusté presided over the trial.
The indictment alleged that from in or around 2004, the leaders of different drug points operating in the metropolitan area formed an alliance. This alliance would help them resolve conflicts between the previously rival drug gangs in a way that would not bring about the attention of local and federal authorities, thus ensuring increased profits from drug sales for all and reducing the risk of charges. It is further alleged that the alliance initially worked, but weakened over time. Several housing project gangs became disgruntled with La ONU and sought to break away from the organization. After several conflicts, La ONU broke into two (2) separate rival factions, La ONU and La Rompe ONU (La Rompe). The housing project gangs were split between those belonging to La ONU and La Rompe.
From the time of the split, the goal of La ONU was to maintain control through the use of force over the drug points in their members’ housing projects, and to kill La Rompe members and leaders in order to expand. Members of La ONU who committed murders and other violent acts were given benefits, including weapons, money and the ability to advance within the criminal enterprise. Though unwritten, the general rules followed by members of La ONU included, but were not limited to: 1) no associating with La Rompe members; 2) kill La Rompe members on sight; 3) no killing of other members of La ONU without leadership authorization; 4) no overtaking housing projects/drug points owned by other members of La ONU; and 5) no cooperating with law enforcement. Any violation of these rules was punishable by death of the violator and/or his/her family members.
During the trial, evidence was presented relating to defendants’ participation in eleven (11) murders and three (3) attempted murders, all committed in furtherance of the activities of La ONU. These acts are as follows:
- On or about November 12, 2007, in Puerto Rico, defendant Ramón Lanza-Vázquez, aka “Ramoncito” and other ONU members shot and killed Orlando Medina-Serrano.
- In October 2008, Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo, aka “Danny KX” or “Danny Vorki,” tortured and killed Isaac Nair Ortiz-Rivera aka Kiki.
- On or about February 19, 2009, in Puerto Rico, defendant Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo, aka “Danny KX” or “Danny Vorki,” and other ONU members killed Ángel González-Villanueva, aka “Chaple.”
- In July 2009, Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo, aka “Danny KX” or “Danny Vorki,” killed Jayson Rivera Rivera, Camilo Ruiz Concepcion and Juan Pagan Lopez in what was known as the Cocobongo Massacre.
- On or about January 5, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo, and others killed Luis Antonio De-Jesús-Pérez.
- On or about April 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, ONU members shot and killed Victor Vega-Ortega, aka “Victor El Nazi.”
- On or about May 4, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendant Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino, aka “Bernard” shot into a patrolling police helicopter and killed Jesús Quiñones-Santiago, and attempted to kill José Rivera-Quinoñes, Eduardo Alvelo-Meléndez, and Shakira Vázquez-Nieves.
- On or about July 7, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendant Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino and others shot and killed Puerto Rico Police Officer Blanca De Los Santos-Barbosa and Manuel Medina-Rivera.
- On or about August 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendant Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino, and Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo and others killed Christian Toledo-Sánchez, aka “Pekeke.” During the course of the murder, Luis Gallardo-Rivera, aka “El Tuerto,” was shot and killed by the rival drug gang.
“These convictions demonstrate the commitment of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico to eradicate drug trafficking and violent crimes in Puerto Rico. For many years these individuals intimidated the citizens of the metropolitan area with their violence and drug trafficking,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We are pleased with the jury’s verdict. “The jury trial which led to today’s conviction was one of the first ever RICO Act prosecutions of its nature in the District of Puerto Rico. We will use all the tools at our disposal to take dangerous criminals off the streets of Puerto Rico, until we break their grip on our communities and bring them to justice.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jenifer Y. Hernández-Vega and Special Assistant US Attorney Victor Acevedo-Hernández.
The defendants face up to life imprisonment. The sentencing hearings were scheduled for February 10, 2014.