50 Members of La Asociación Ñeta Prison Gang Indicted for Violating the RICO Act in Puerto Rico
A federal indictment was unsealed today in the District of Puerto Rico charging 50 members of La Asociación ÑETA with racketeering, drug trafficking and murder, announced U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico. The defendants include the leadership of the enterprise, its drug trafficking network and members who perpetrated murders in furtherance of the enterprise. This prosecution is the product of an FBI investigation into the drug trafficking and violent activities perpetrated by members of the gang known as La Asociación ÑETA.
According to the indictment, the defendants are charged with being part of La Asociación ÑETA, a prison gang that operates in the prisons of the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (PRDCR). La Asociación ÑETA is a criminal organization that engages in drug trafficking and murder. The main purpose of the organization is to make money. Inmates originally formed La Asociación ÑETA as a means to advocate for their rights within the PRDCR. The enterprise, however, evolved into a criminal organization that engaged in drug trafficking and murder within the prisons of the PRDCR. The enterprise makes money by introducing multi-kilogram quantities of drugs into the PRDCR prisons for profit and by engaging in murders for hire.
The indictment alleges that members and associates of La Asociación ÑETA introduced and distributed multi-kilograms of cocaine, marijuana and heroin into the prisons of the PRDCR. They were able to introduce this contraband into the prisons with the help of corrupt PRDCR Correctional Officers, civilians who worked inside of the prison system, people who visited inmates and persons who - from outside the prisons - threw drugs into the facilities ,known as pitcheos, which were caught by members of the enterprise. Members of the enterprise and their associates also introduced cellular telephones into the prisons and charged a fee to other inmates for using the same. Members of the enterprise would use cellular phones to engage in drug trafficking and murder.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that people who were not incarcerated would hire La Asociación ÑETA to kill persons who were serving time in the prisons of the PRDCR. La Asociación ÑETA participated in the murders for pecuniary gain. Murders perpetrated by the organization include those of Mario Montañez-Gómez aka Emme on Aug. 27, 2014, and Alexis Rodríguez-Rodríguez aka Alexis El Loco on Nov. 6, 2014.
The defendants are: Avelino Millán-Machuca aka Papito Machuca/El Fuerte/Viejo/Gordo; Fernando García-Marquez aka Fernan Sandwich/Emparedado/ Fernan/Carlos Vega; Cynthia González-Landrau aka La Cana/La Princesa/La Presidenta; Rolando Millán-Machuca aka Rolo; Alex Piñero-Sotomayor aka Cigüeña/Pájaro; Miguel Rivera-Calcaño aka Guelo/ Kikirimiau; Roberto Casado-Berríos aka Bobe/Bobel; Iván Ayala-Hernández aka Bambani/Bambo; Giordano Santana-Meléndez aka Viejo Ten; Carlos Báez-Figueroa aka Carlitos Guaynabo; José Trinidad-Jorge aka Trini; Ángel Bermúdez-Cartagena aka Apache/El Doctor; José Cintrón-Mojica aka Jowito; Victor Solano-Moreta aka Caballo; José Castoire-Sánchez; Luis Ayuso-Walker aka Buringo; Juan Lozada-Delgado aka Chino San Lorenzo; Aníbal Miranda-Montañez aka Jowy; Freddie Sánchez-Martínez aka Casco; Ángel Cruz-Barrientos aka Diego/Cloche; Alex Miguel Cruz-Santos aka Alex Cuquito; José J. Folch-Colón aka Joel Folch/Gordo Folch; Billy Andino-De Jesús aka Billy Cupey/Billy El Calvo; Luis Rojas-Llanos aka Cachorro/Kchorro; Juan J. Claudio-Morales aka Claudio Canales/Claudio El Gordo; Eduardo Rosario-Orangel aka Barba/Cholón; George Torres-Rodríguez aka Gordo Comerio; Luis H. Quiñonez-Santiago aka Hiram; Augusto Christopher-Lind aka Bengie Loiza; José L. Nieves-Torres; Luis D. Ramos-Báez aka Danny Power; Orlando Ruiz-Acevedo aka Gordo Ponce; Raul D. Rosario-Maldonado aka Davi/Davo; Juan R. Cruz-Santana aka Roldán; José Marrero-Figueroa aka Tito San José; Ramón Morales-Sáez aka Moncho/Monchi; Carlos Santiago-Rivera aka Black/Blacky/El Negro; David González-De León aka Bebe Cupey; José Díaz-López aka Culo De Pollo; Osvaldo Torres-Santiago aka Bombilla/Baldo/Baldito; José Velázquez-Maldonado aka Batata; Roberto Martínez-Rivera aka Matatan; José Sánchez-Laureano aka Veterano; José González-Gerena aka Perpetua; Francisco Torres-Rodríguez aka Kino; Andrés Del Valle-Ortega aka Randy/Andy Caimito; José R. Andino-Morales aka Gladiola; Jesús P. O’neill-Gómez aka Pastor; Ángel I. Díaz-Santiago; and Pedro Fontanez-Pérez.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor O. Acevedo-Hernández for the District of Puerto Rico is in charge of the prosecution of the case. The FBI and the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections collaborated during the investigation.
“I want to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the FBI and the Department of Corrections agents and officials who participated in this substantial investigation which resulted in today’s arrests,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “This success of this operation shows the continued teamwork of federal law enforcement and our state and local partners to reduce gang violence inside the prisons in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will zealously prosecute these defendants and bring them to justice.”
“Even prison walls were not enough to stop the brazen acts of this violent gang,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Leff of the FBI’s San Juan Division. “In reality, their conduct is more accurately described as that of an international mafia than a prison gang. Their network reached throughout Puerto Rico and the continental United States. This enabled them to order hits on rival gang members, corrupt two sworn officers and to move large quantities of drugs and other contraband, effectively turning their prison into a gang-controlled housing project. The dismantlement of this criminal enterprise was achieved through the tireless investigation of our case agents and partners with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Police of Puerto Rico.”
If convicted, the defendants face up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.