Manager Of Orlando-Area Heroin Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty
Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Ernesto Cabanas-Torres (41, Orlando) today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison.
Cabanas-Torres was indicted on March 23, 2016, along with co-conspirators Angel Manuel Fontanez, Alexis Fontanez Nieves, Zuleyka Jeanette Colon-Rivera, Pedro Juan Rivera-Aviles, Wilbert Joel Alequin-Pagan, Robert Sautner, and Emmanuel Verges. To date, five 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.
On February 6, 2015, the leader of the organization, Angel Manuel Fontanez, was arrested by officers from the Orlando Police Department for trafficking heroin in the parking lot of a business located on Major Boulevard in Orlando. After Fontanez’s arrest, Cabanas-Torres and other co-conspirators assumed leadership roles in the conspiracy. Cabanas-Torres controlled the heroin line at times, and directed the activities of other co-conspirators. He also used his Orlando business, the Majestik Tattoo and Barbershop, to supply heroin to sellers and for meetings between the co-conspirators. Cabanas-Torres also personally sold heroin to undercover agents and informants on seven separate occasions between January and August 2015.
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 C. 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.