35 Individuals Charged With Drug Trafficking
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On June 23, 2016, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against 35 defendants charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), Ponce Strike Force Unit, are in charge of the investigation.
The indictment alleges that beginning in 2012, the organization distributed heroin, crack, cocaine, and marihuana, at the Rafael López Nussa, Ernesto Ramos Antonini and the Dr. Manuel De La Pila Iglesias Public Housing Projects in Ponce; and the El Pino Ward in Villalba, Puerto Rico, all for significant financial gain and profit.
The thirty-five defendants acted in different roles in order to further the goals of their organization, to wit: leaders, drug point owners, enforcers, runners, sellers, and facilitators. Ten defendants are facing one charge of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The defendants are: Miguel A. Pacheco-Mejías, a.k.a. “El Blanco/Miguel Ratón”; Mark W. Torres-O’Conner, a.k.a “Mawi”; Ronald Aponte-Castillo; Freddy Ferrer-Crespo, a.k.a. “Maldito”; José M. Torres-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “Pollina/Polli”; Luis A. Archeval, a.k.a. “Archeval”; José A. Avilés-Gilbert, a.k.a. “Berto/Lolo”; José Ortiz-Cedeño, aka “Monchi”; Orlando Arroyo a.k.a. “Casper”; Christopher De Jesús, a.k.a. “Planetario”; Ángel Pérez-Cancel, a.k.a. “Yanyel”; Anthony B. Rivera-López, a.k.a. “La B”; Arnaldo J. Santana-Ramos, a.k.a. “Naldy”; Walter Hernández-Rivera, a.k.a. “Walter Cabeza”; Alexis Soto-Vargas, a.k.a. “Bolillo”; Luis A. Santiago-Irizarry, a.k.a. “Kikologo”; Joshua Ortiz-Archeval, a.k.a. “Kikito”; Christian X. Lugo-Sopena, a.k.a. “Tostón”; Jorge L. Maldonado-Pacheco, a.k.a. “Barber”; Geremid F. Pérez-Banchs, a.k.a. “Bebo”; Nelson Lacourt-Linares, a.k.a. “Blaki”; Luis A. Ayala-Vega, a.k.a. “Mellao”; Byan Ocasio-Martínez, a.k.a. “Cuajo”; Richard Santiago-Santiago, a.k.a. “Güimo”; Miguel A. Pérez, a.k.a. “Pucho”; Christopher J. Bracero-Román, a.k.a. “Mono”; Carlos Padilla-Pérez, a.k.a. “Luis Padilla”; Félix J. González-Torres, a.k.a. “El Gato”; Giovany Matos-Vicenti, a.k.a. “Mueca”; Alexis G. Mercado-Sánchez, a.k.a. “Macri”; Jean L. Domínguez-Soto, a.k.a. “Chino”; Jesús M. Daliot-Ríos, a.k.a. “Chuchu”; Wilbert Rosado-Pérez, a.k.a. “Bebo Federal”; Steven Quintana-Cedeño, a.k.a. “Problematic Quintana/Nesti”; and Elizardo Ruiz-Tirado, a.k.a. Tito Línea/TL”.
The defendants and their co-conspirators routinely possessed, carried, brandished and used firearms to protect themselves and their drug trafficking organization, maintain control of their drug points, intimidate and retaliate against other drug trafficking organizations and expand their drug trafficking activities. The sellers would use masks to cover their faces and avoid detection by law enforcement while selling drugs at the drug points. Some defendants tattooed themselves and wore clothing items with the logo of the organization.
“We will continue our joint efforts to dismantle violent drug trafficking organizations at every level,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “These arrests will keep the law abiding citizens of Ponce and Villalba safer from the inevitable violence that drug trafficking brings.”
“This DEA investigation and arrests have effectively dismantled the main drug trafficking organization in the Ponce area. DEA will continue its commitment to conduct high scale research to bring to justice these criminal organizations that strive to create violence and unrest in our communities and promote the use and abuse of controlled substances,” said Israel Alicea, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, DEA Caribbean Division.
Assistant U.S. Attorney María L. Montañez-Concepción and Assistant U.S. Attorney John A. Mathews II are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.