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Press Release

Puerto Rico Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 18 Years for Managing Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy that Shipped Dozens of Kilos to the DMV Area

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – Rey Rivera Ruiz, 40, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, was sentenced today to 18 years in prison for managing a Puerto Rico drug trafficking organization responsible for shipping dozens of kilograms of cocaine to the Washington D.C. metro area.

            The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves; FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Scott of the Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division; and Acting Inspector in Charge Ajay Lall, of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division.

            In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Chief Judge James E. Boasberg ordered Rivera Ruiz to serve five years of supervised release.

            Rivera Ruiz, aka “Gordo,” pleaded guilty on May 26, 2022, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. As part of his plea agreement, Rivera Ruiz admitted he was responsible for distributing between 50 and 150 kilos of cocaine as part of the conspiracy. He also admitted he managed or supervised the criminal activity, which involved at least five co-conspirators.

            According to the government’s evidence, beginning in October 2019, Rivera Ruiz, assisted by several other individuals, shipped multiple kilograms of cocaine every month from post offices in San Juan to the mainland U.S., including addresses in the Washington, D.C. area, via the U.S. Postal Service. Investigators estimated that the members of the conspiracy shipped at least 65 parcels containing up to two kilograms of cocaine each. Once the cocaine arrived in the Washington, D.C. area, local drug dealers broke up the bricks into smaller portions and distributed the drug. 

            Additionally, the Puerto Rico drug trafficking organization’s members allegedly traveled from San Juan to the Washington, D.C. area to collect drug sales proceeds, and then surreptitiously traveled on commercial airliners to return the money to Ruiz Rivera and others. 

            On April 15, 2021, investigators executed a search warrant at the home of Ruiz Rivera and found a USPS receipt for a parcel which had been mailed April 9. Law enforcement then seized the parcel while it was still in the mail stream and found it contained a kilo of cocaine.

            In total, 10 individuals have been convicted for their roles in this drug trafficking conspiracy.

            On November 8, 2023, co-conspirator Jann Jousten Aponte-Rivera, 27, of San Juan, was found guilty in the District of Columbia of participating in the drug-related murder of Shantay Myisha Butler, 42, of Frederick, Maryland. Specifically, Aponte-Rivera was found guilty in U.S. District Court of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, one count of causing the intentional death of Ms. Butler while engaged in drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine, and one count of causing the death of Ms. Butler through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking offense.

            Aponte-Rivera, 27 was sentenced yesterday, February 21, 2024, to 50 years in prison.

            The murder took place October 14, 2020. At that time, a D.C.-area drug dealer owed thousands of dollars to the Puerto Rico drug trafficking organization.  In October 2020, after first meeting with Rivera-Ruiz and supplying him with some of the proceeds believed to be owed, the D.C.-area dealer was then lured by Aponte-Rivera and co-conspirator Michael Gabriel Hernandez Rivera, 21, to a desolate part of Levittown, Puerto Rico, under the guise that they would be fishing. When they arrived, Ms. Butler was in the passenger seat of the vehicle driven by the local drug trafficker. Then, both Aponte-Rivera and Hernandez Rivera opened fired on the vehicle. The D.C.-are drug dealer was able to drive off as the shots were fired, while sustaining gunshot wounds, but Ms. Butler sustained a gunshot wound to the head and appears to have died instantly. Miraculously, the D.C.-area dealer managed to escape and survived after months in a coma and medical treatment.  The D.C.-area dealer has since pleaded guilty to his involvement in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

            The charged drug trafficking conspiracy ended in April 2021 when law enforcement arrested Rivera, Aponte-Rivera, and Hernandez-Rivera. The three men have remained in custody since. Aponte-Rivera is scheduled for sentencing on February 8, 2024

            In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Graves and the FBI’s SAC Scott commended investigators at the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Montgomery Co. Police Department (MCPD), Frederick City Police Department, San Juan USPIS OIG, the Puerto Rico Police Department (Bayamon Homicide Division), the Police of Rico San Juan Homicide Division, and the Institute of Forensic Sciences of Puerto Rico.

            The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Scarpelli and David T. Henek, of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel Fletcher and Dineen Baker assisted in the investigation and charging of this case.

Updated February 23, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-166