SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a 60-count superseding indictment charging 18 individuals with importation of cocaine and marijuana into the District of Puerto Rico and continental United States, and money laundering. The investigation is still ongoing. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are in charge of the investigation, with the collaboration of the Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB), U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Customs and Border Protection, CBP Air and Marine Operations, the U.S. Marshal Service, the Puerto Rico Treasury Department, and the Barceloneta Police Department. To date, law enforcement has seized over six million dollars in U.S. currency and assets, approximately ten firearms, and over two thousand kilograms of narcotics.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the collaborative efforts of all our partners who work to dismantle these dangerous drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and stop these criminals from harming our communities,” said United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow.
“The leader of this organization shows no respect for authorities, continuing operations from behind bars,” said Rebecca González-Ramos, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations. “Today we dismantled his criminal empire, focusing on arresting all individuals involved and seizing millions of dollars in assets acquired with drug money.”
According to the superseding indictment, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The individuals charged in the superseding indictment are:
José Julio Rodríguez-Cumba, a.k.a. “Chambi/Chembi/Josué/Chambo/Patrón”
Bárbara Valentín-Rivera, a.k.a. “Barbara Paola”
Luis Crespo-Cumba, a.k.a. “La L”
Luis Roberto Alvarado-Reyes, a.k.a. “El Viejo”
Ricardo Lopez-Ramos, a.k.a. “Ricky”
Héctor L. Derkes, a.k.a. “El Venezolano”
William J. Pantoja-Nieves, a.k.a. “W”
Luis J. Hernández-Cruz, a.k.a. “Tampa Pana”
Edwin Daniel Gonzalez-Reyes, a.k.a. “Cotto” and “Coto”
Fernando Cortes-Flores, a.k.a. “La Bruja”
Luis Héctor Adames-Nieves, a.k.a. “Monki”
Ángel Xavier Pérez-Olivencia, a.k.a. “Chavy”
Niurka A. Rodríguez-Cumba, a.k.a. “Adela”
Marta D. Cardona-Cumba
Luis Alberto Bourdon-Román, a.k.a. “El Negro Capi Bueno”
According to court documents, José Julio Rodríguez-Cumba, directed a large-scale drug trafficking organization that imported and distributed multi-hundred-kilogram shipments of cocaine from South America, into Puerto Rico and the continental United States. The organization also received multi-kilogram shipments of marijuana from the continental United States for distribution throughout Puerto Rico. The superseding indictment alleges that Rodríguez-Cumba’s drug trafficking organization is involved in the distribution and sale of over two thousand kilograms of cocaine and marijuana. Rodríguez-Cumba has been designated as a Regional Priority Organization Target (RPOT) under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.
As the alleged principal or leader of a drug trafficking organization, Rodríguez-Cumba is also charged in Count Five with engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) whose purpose was to “smuggle, import, offload, purchase, distribute, and supply controlled substances within Puerto Rico and the continental United States all for significant financial gain and profit.” In furtherance of the enterprise, Rodríguez-Cumba, in concert with his associates, including co-conspirators identified in the superseding indictment, committed and caused to be committed, a continuing series of felony drug violations, including but not limited to:
(a) Conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States;
(b) Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances;
(c) Importation of cocaine into the United States;
(d) Attempted importation of cocaine into the United States; and
(e) Distribution and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
The defendants acted in different roles to further the goals of the drug trafficking conspiracy, to include: Principal Leaders, who were responsible for the day-to-day organizational and operational decision making in Puerto Rico; Cell Leaders, who were responsible for the day-to-day organizational and operational decision making of the cells located and operating in the continental United States; Money Launderers, who were responsible for conducting financial transactions with the goal of legitimizing and disguising millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds generated by the organization; Transporters: who were responsible for the transportation of the narcotics from South America into Puerto Rico, and subsequently into the continental United States; and Enforcers or Hitmen, who were responsible for protecting and securing the assets and members of the organization from rival drug trafficking organization to include committing acts of violence on behalf of the organization. Seven defendants are also charged, in Count Ten, with possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
The superseding indictment also charges the defendants with several counts of money laundering. José Julio Rodríguez-Cumba is alleged to have made efforts to disguise the narcotics proceeds as legitimate earnings by establishing several business entities and deposits for Lottery “winnings” from:
- September 24, 2020, he deposited two winnings for $35,000 and $40,000;
- December 16, 2020, he deposited winnings for $10,000;
- December 29, 2020, he deposited winnings for $15,000;
- February 26, 2121, he deposited winnings for $10,000;
- March 10, 2121, he deposited winnings for $50,050; and
- May 14, 2121, he deposited winnings for $250,000.
In total, in a span of eight months, José Julio Rodríguez-Cumba allegedly “won” the lottery seven times for a total of $375,050 in lottery winnings. As part of the manner and means of the money laundering conspiracy, Jose Julio Rodríguez-Cumba and his co-defendants opened personal and corporate bank accounts to manage the finances from both their businesses and its drug trafficking operation, structured both cash deposits and withdrawals to evade financial transaction reporting requirements, made transfers from personal bank accounts to corporate bank accounts and vice-versa to disguise the source and nature of the funds, and used mobile payment systems to transfer proceeds from person to person and avoid detection from authorities.
The superseding indictment also includes forfeiture allegations of more than six million dollars in assets including cash, real property, and personal property, as well as firearms.
If convicted, Rodríguez-Cumba faces a statutory mandatory penalty of life in prison pursuant to Title 21, U.S.C., Section 848(b). All co-defendants charged in the drug conspiracy (Count One) are facing a mandatory minimum of 10 years of imprisonment with a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison. The money laundering offenses carry a maximum sentence of twenty years of imprisonment. The firearms offense carries a consecutive penalty of five years to life imprisonment.
Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and Chief of the Transnational Organized Crime Section Max J. Pérez-Bouret; Deputy Chief of the Transnational Organized Crime Section, AUSA María L. Montañez-Concepción; and AUSAs Jorge L. Matos and Ryan R. McCabe are prosecuting the case.
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-coordinated, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.