SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On June 27, 2013, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against four defendants charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of, cocaine and Oxycodone (commonly known as Percocet), announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Drug Enforcement Administration is in charge of the investigation.
According to the indictment, the object of the conspiracy was to use the establishment Perfumería Chris in Levittown, Toa Baja, PR, as a front from which the illegal sale of controlled substances, mainly cocaine and Percocet, could take place undetected, all for significant financial gain.
The defendants are: Ramón Santiago-Ortega, aka “Pucho”, owner of Perfumería Chris (perfume parlor); Jesús Cabrera-Martínez, aka “Papalote;” Yolanda Santiago-Orta and Elizabeth Rodríguez-Flores. They operated the Perfumería Chris, where they sold drug paraphernalia and narcotics in perfume accessories such as bags and boxes to disguise the controlled substances sold at their workplace. According to the indictment, the defendants would count and weight the controlled substances directly on top of the perfume counter before conducting the drug sales.
The defendants served as runners and sources of supply of cocaine for other members of the conspiracy, in addition to participating in the drug sales and splitting the earnings with other members. They used cellphones in committing, causing and facilitating controlled substance sales. It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that members of the conspiracy advised as to the code names to use during the drug related conversations such as “Baskin-Robbins” in reference to 31 grams of cocaine (31 ice cream flavors) and “Perfume” in reference to kilos of cocaine.
Defendants Santiago-Ortega and Rodríguez-Flores are facing one count of managing and controlling a drug establishment. Since August 2011, these two defendants, owners, managers and/or employees, knowingly and intentionally used Perfumería Chris for the purpose of unlawfully storing and distributing cocaine and Percocet. As to the narcotics forfeiture allegation, the property to be forfeited is the two story building, to wit, Perfumería Chris.
“Drug trafficking organizations must be aggressively attacked and dismantled at every level,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “These defendants distributed narcotics inside what appeared to be a legitimate business, where they thought their illegal activities would go undetected.”
“Our citizens should not have to live with drug dealers operating in their communities - openly conducting their drug deals in stores, mall parking lots and streets,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Pedro J. Janer. “Individuals, whether they live in Mayagüez or in San Juan, should be able to walk their streets and go about their daily activities without fear or exposure to drug activity and potential related violence. We will continue working hard to enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”
Special Assistant US Attorney Max Pérez-Bouret is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years 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.