Leader Of An Orlando-Area Heroin Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty
Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Angel Manuel Fontanez (32, Clermont) today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, as well as individual counts of distributing and possessing heroin. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison.
Fontanez was indicted on March 23, 2016, along with co-conspirators Alexis Fontanez Nieves, Ernesto Cabanas-Torres, Zuleyka Jeanette Colon-Rivera, Pedro Juan Rivera-Aviles, Wilbert Joel Alequin-Pagan, Robert Sautner, and Emmanuel Verges. To date, four of the eight defendants have been convicted of a federal drug offense. A trial date for the remaining individuals is currently set for October 24, 2016.
According to court documents, a drug trafficking organization whose members referred to themselves as “La Compania” or “the Company” used a telephone number (“the heroin line”) that frequently changed to sell heroin to customers primarily in the Orlando tourist district, near International Drive. Customers would call the heroin line and arrange to purchase heroin from a member of the organization. The heroin line changed hands from one member of the organization to the next, as heroin was sold during two 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.
Fontanez was the leader of the organization, and he traveled out-of-state to acquire kilograms of heroin that were transported back to the Orlando area and then re-packaged into smaller, street-level quantities for distribution. He also managed and directed the activities of the organization’s street dealers. Based on undercover heroin purchases and other evidence developed during this investigation, law enforcement determined that Fontanez’s drug organization distributed approximately one kilogram of heroin to its customers in the Orlando area every two weeks. The organization also occasionally provided its customers with cocaine.
This case is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation entitled “La Compania.” The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Orlando Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Searle.
The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation's drug supply.