Member Of An Orlando-Area Heroin Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty
Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Alexis Fontanez Nieves (29, 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.
Nieves was indicted on March 23, 2016, along with co-conspirators Angel Manuel Fontanez, Ernesto Cabanas-Torres, Zuleyka Jeanette Colon-Rivera, Pedro Juan Rivera-Aviles, Wilbert Joel Alequin-Pagan, Robert Sautner, and Emmanuel Verges. To date, seven of the eight defendants have been convicted of a federal drug offense. A trial date for the remaining individual, Colon-Rivera, 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. The organization distributed approximately one kilogram of heroin every two weeks.
Nieves’ brother, Angel Manuel Fontanez, was the leader of the organization. During the conspiracy, Nieves helped his brother re-package bulk heroin into smaller baggies for street-level sales, inside hotel rooms in Orlando. Nieves also supplied cocaine to the organization’s sellers, who would then sell it using the same methods they used to sell heroin. After Fontanez was arrested by officers from the Orlando Police Department for trafficking heroin, Nieves became more involved in the organization’s day-to-day activities by controlling the heroin line, providing heroin to the organization’s low-level sellers, and collecting money from the sellers at the end of their shifts.
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 is being 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.