Members Of Queens-Based Drug Trafficking Crew Indicted For Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy, Kidnapping, And Firearms Offenses
Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed charging Gonzalo Erick Aguilar Vargas, also known as “Erick Aguilar” and “Erick Vargas,” Hillary Calle, Kiancin Lee, also known as “Mala,” Monica Vargas, and Ricky Vargas with conspiring to traffic heroin, conspiring to kidnap, kidnapping, and possessing and brandishing firearms in relation to the charged heroin trafficking and kidnapping crimes. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The charges and arrests were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division; and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).
As alleged in the indictment, on February 6, 2015, a member of the defendants’ drug trafficking crew was arrested while picking up a parcel containing heroin sent from Ecuador through John F. Kennedy International Airport into Queens, New York. The crew member was released from law enforcement custody later that day. The following day, the defendants kidnapped the crew member and his female companion in Manhattan so that their leader, Gonzalo Erick Aguilar Vargas, could confront him regarding the lost parcel of heroin. Hillary Calle, Monica Vargas, and Ricky Vargas drove the two victims to New Jersey and then returned with them through Manhattan to Queens, where they waited for other crew members to arrive. Kiancin Lee and another crew member subsequently arrived and ordered the kidnapped crew member into a vehicle. When he refused, Ricky Vargas, Kiancin Lee, and the other crew member viciously assaulted him using firearms. The victim crew member ultimately escaped and his female companion was later released.
“As detailed in the indictment, the defendants were members of a drug trafficking organization that imported heroin from Ecuador through John F. Kennedy Airport and distributed it throughout the New York City area,” stated United States Attorney Capers. “The defendants allegedly kidnapped and viciously assaulted a member of their crew after he was arrested in another case in order to enforce their control over the crew’s activities. As this prosecution demonstrates, we are committed to working closely with our local partners, including city, state, and federal law enforcement, to rid our communities of the ravages of drug trafficking and its related violence.” Mr. Capers extended his grateful appreciation to the Office of Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown for its assistance with this investigation and prosecution, as well as the New York Field Office of United States Customs and Border Protection.
“Drugs and guns are a deadly combination and every seizure makes our community safer. These arrests and indictments demonstrate our relentless pursuit to remove drug traffickers from our streets,” said HSI New York Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “The safety of our communities is one of HSI’s top priorities. HSI and our state, federal, and local law enforcement partners pool information and resources to target drug smuggling and related criminal elements.”
“Underscoring the brutality linked with drug trafficking, the Vargas organization’s alleged crimes are a reminder of the dark side of drug trafficking-firearms offenses, kidnappings, and assaults. By working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, five alleged members of a violent heroin trafficking organization were investigated, indicted, and arrested,” said DEA New York Special Agent-in-Charge Hunt.
“This investigation is the latest example of the multi-agency collaboration needed to combat crime from Ecuador to the tarmac at John F. Kennedy airport. That collaboration that resulted in today’s arrest for alleged kidnapping and firearms offenses was all to further an illicit and violent drug business,” said New York City Police Commissioner Bratton. “I commend the work of the investigators and prosecutors involved in making this case.”
The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of all counts, defendants Gonzalo Erick Aguilar Vargas, Kiancin Lee, and Ricky Vargas face a mandatory minimum of 17 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment. The defendants Hillary Calle and Monica Vargas face a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorney Patrick T. Hein is in charge of the prosecution.
GONZALO ERICK AGUILAR VARGAS, also known as “Erick Aguilar” and “Erick Vargas”
KIANCIN LEE, also known as “Mala”
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-406