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Press Release

Indictment Unsealed Against Alleged Members Of Heroin Smuggling Ring

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

PHILADELPHIA - A second superseding indictment was unsealed today charging eleven people in a conspiracy that involved secreting packets of heroin inside the body, in order to smuggle the drugs into the United States from the Dominican Republic, drug charges and kidnapping. The indictment names defendants Higinio Castillo and Michael Nunez-Rodriguez as the alleged leaders of the Castillo Drug Smuggling Organization (CDSO). Members of the CDSO acted as couriers and recruited other individuals to act as couriers smuggling the drugs inside their bodies or in luggage. The CDSO paid the couriers’ travel expenses, helped them obtain U.S. Passports, and drove them to and from the U.S. airports. The indictment alleges that the CDSO operated in Philadelphia from November 2010 through March 2012 smuggling at least six kilograms of heroin into the United States during that time period.

Charged with Castillo and Nunez-Rodriguez are: Philip Osley, Yeltsin Genao, Kelvin Perez, Adrian DeJesus, Tommy Figueroa, Argenes Peralta, Carlos Ruben Cotto-Leon, Dilcy Herminia Almanzar, and Jiliana Urena, all of Philadelphia. The charges were announced today by United States Attorney Zane David Memeger and Special Agent-in-Charge John Kelleghan with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.

The CDSO allegedly enforced its hold on couriers and prevented theft of its product through threats and intimidation. The indictment alleges that on August 24, 2011, defendants Nunez-Rodriguez, Genao and Perez drove from Camden, NJ, to Philadelphia to locate “S.R.,”a person believed to have stolen the heroin that he was tasked with smuggling. The defendants drove S.R. to a house on 19th Street in Philadelphia where Castillo and DeJesus were waiting. The five conspirators interrogated S.R. by binding his hands and feet, making threats on his life, and discharging a firearm at close range. S.R. was eventually released with no serious physical injury. The indictment further alleges that on September 5,2011, defendants Nunez-Rodriguez and Figueroa went to the homes of courier “C.D.” after C.D. did not appear at the airport the previous night as expected. Figueroa pointed a gun at the person who answered the door and forced his way into the home to search for C.D. The defendants left after not finding C.D.

According to the indictment, the couriers traveled to and from the Dominican Republic on commercial flights that landed at Philadelphia International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, NJ, and JFK International Airport in Brooklyn, NY.

Defendant DeJesus was taken in to custody last night; the remaining defendants have been in federal custody.

If convicted of all charges, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to life in prison, a mandatory minimum five years of supervised release up to a lifetime of supervised release, possible fines, and mandatory special assessments. Defendants convicted of firearm charges face an additional consecutive mandatory term of seven years in prison. The government is also seeking forfeiture of all assets derived from any criminal activity.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from United States Customs and Border Protection, the Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Rue.

Click here to view the indictment

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Updated December 15, 2014