WASHINGTON – A jury today found Jann Jousten Aponte-Rivera, 27, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, guilty of participating in the drug-related murder of Shantay Myisha Butler, 42, of Frederick, MD. Specifically, Aponte-Rivers was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, one count of continuing criminal enterprise – causing the intentional death of Shantay Butler – and one count of causing the death of Shantay Butler through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking offense.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Graves and the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge Jacobs commended investigators at the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspector Service (USPIS), the Montgomery Co. Police Department (MCPD), Frederick City Police Department, San Juan USPIS OIG, the Puerto Rico Police Department (Bayamon Homicide Division), and the Institute of Forensic Sciences of Puerto Rico.
According to the government’s evidence, Aponte-Rivera was part of a large-scale drug trafficking organization based in San Juan that was sending kilogram quantities of cocaine to the mainland United States, including the Washington D.C. region, via the U.S. Postal Service. Law enforcement identified over 50 parcels of cocaine shipped by the organization from Puerto Rico to the Washington, D.C. area with a wholesale street value of at least $2 million. Once the drugs arrived in the metropolitan area, a local drug trafficking organization distributed the cocaine to mainland dealers.
Additionally, the Puerto Rico organization’s members allegedly traveled from San Juan to the Washington, D.C. area to collect drug proceeds, and then surreptitiously traveled on commercial airliners to return the proceeds to the conspiracy’s leader, Rey “Gordo” Rivera Ruiz, 40, and others.
According to the government’s evidence, during the life of the drug conspiracy Rivera Ruiz and his associates shipped between 50 kilograms and 150 kilograms of cocaine to the local drug trafficking organization. The charged drug trafficking conspiracy began around October 2019 and ended in April 2021, when Aponte-Rivera was indicted with co-defendants Rivera Ruiz, Nomar Medina Diaz and Michael Gabriel Rivera Hernandez . The four men have remained in custody since their April 2021 arrests.
The leader of the Washington, D.C.-area drug trafficking organization owed several thousand dollars to the Puerto Rico drug trafficking organization and had been ordered to pay for several kilograms of cocaine which did not arrive in the Washington, D.C. area.
On Oct. 14, 2020, Aponte-Rivera and Rivera Hernandez lured the leader of the Washington, D.C.-area drug trafficking organization and Shantay Butler to a desolate part of Toa Baja in Puerto Rico. When the leader of the Washington, D.C.-area drug trafficking organization arrived with Ms. Butler in a car, Aponte-Rivera and Rivera Hernandez ambushed them. They both pulled out firearms and opened fire on the vehicle. The leader of the Washington, D.C.-area drug trafficking organization was shot five times, remained in a coma for several weeks, but survived. His girlfriend, Ms. Butler, died of her wounds.
The FBI arrested Aponte-Rivera on Apr. 15, 2021, in Allentown, Pa.
Rivera Ruiz pleaded guilty on May 26, 2022, before U.S. District Chief Judge James E. Boasberg, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Judge Boasberg scheduled sentencing for Dec. 20, 2023. In total, 10 individuals have been convicted for their roles in this drug trafficking conspiracy, and murder.
Aponte-Rivera remains held pending his sentencing by Judge Boasberg, who scheduled sentencing for February 8, 2024. The charges require a mandatory 30-year prison term with a potential sentence of life imprisonment.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Graves and the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge Jacobs commended investigators at the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspector Service (USPIS), the Montgomery Co. Police Department (MCPD), Frederick City Police Department, San Juan USPIS OIG and the Puerto Rico Police Department Homicide.
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.