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Press Release

Eight Defendants Charged with Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking and Murder For Hire

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

United States Attorney James L. Santelle of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that a federal grand jury recently returned an eleven-count indictment charging eight defendants with various drug-trafficking offenses, including conspiracy to distribute at least 1 kilogram or more of heroin, and charging one defendant with murder for hire.  The defendants are identified as Jose Ponce de Leon (age: 29) Yandi Ponce de Leon (age: 30), Carlos Cornier-Nazario (age: 28), Louis Rodriguez-Ramirez (age: 29), Luis Rivera-Corales (age: 22), Mayra Johanna Palermo-Rodriguez (age: 29), Julio Ponce de Leon (age: 34), and Alex Cornier-Torres (age:  28). All of the defendants are residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The defendants are charged in the following counts:



Jose Ponce de Leon
Yandi Ponce de Leon

Conspiracy to distribute cocaine and more than 1 kilogram of heroin
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A) and 846
18 U.S.C. § 2

Mandatory term of 10 years imprisonment, maximum of life imprisonment and $10 million fine

Julio Ponce de Leon

Conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) and 846   

18 U.S.C. § 2 

20 years maximum and $1 million fine


Rivera-Corales, Yandi Ponce de Leon,
Cornier-Nazario, Jose Ponce de Leon, Rodriguez-Ramirez

Distribution of heroin and cocaine
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C)

18 U.S.C. § 2 

20 years maximum and $1 million fine


Julio Ponce de Leon

Use of the telephone to facilitate possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine

21 U.S.C. § 843(b)

4 years maximum and $30,000 fine


Yandi Ponce de Leon

Murder for hire
18 U.S.C. § 1958

18 U.S.C. § 2 

10 years maximum and $250,000 fine

This long-term investigation revealed that the defendants were involved in a drug trafficking organization lead by Jose Ponce de Leon that distributed at least 1 kilogram of heroin as well as large quantities of cocaine in and around the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. The investigation included court-authorized interception of wire communications to and from Yandi Ponce de Leon’s telephone, which lead to the interception of wire communications regarding the murder for hire.

The defendants were charged after a long-term investigation lead by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, in conjunction with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Wisconsin Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigation, the Wisconsin High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Milwaukee Police Department, Oak Creek Police Department, Cudahy Police Department, and West Allis Police Department. This case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura S. Kwaterski.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Updated January 29, 2015

Press Release Number: 2