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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 1, 2018

4 Individuals Indicted For Trafficking Methamphetamine And Marihuana

SAN JUAN, PR – On January 31, 2018, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against four individuals as a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation led by the U.S Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, DEA and the Puerto Rico Police Department, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a three-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and the use of mail to distribute controlled substances.

The indictment alleges that beginning in the year 2015, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine in Puerto Rico for significant financial gain. U.S Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, DEA San Juan Tactical Division Squad, and PRPD, started an investigation into a Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) responsible for shipping crystal meth (also known as “ice”) and marihuana from the state of California to Puerto Rico via the United States Postal Service (USPS) with the assistance of two postal employees.

The defendants are:

1.         José Chávez, a.k.a. “El Mejicano/El Ingeniero”- sent the drugs from California to Puerto Rico

2.         Pedro Rodríguez Valentin- USPS employee

3.         Julio Valenzuela Morel- facilitator

4.         Josué Torres Colón- USPS employee

According to the indictment, the defendants mailed the packaged methamphetamine and/or marihuana to Puerto Rico from United States Post Offices in California. They had the methamphetamine and/or marihuana laden boxes have specific existing addresses on the postal employee’s delivery route, so that he could take control of the package to deliver to co-conspirators. The defendants and co-conspirators held meetings in Puerto Rico or Florida to discuss the distribution of controlled substances and communicated via text or phone regarding the shipments of controlled substances to Puerto Rico and its distribution. They used Well Fargo and Banco Popular accounts to pay co-conspirators for the shipments of methamphetamine.

“The US Attorney’s Office will continue to vigorously pursue the criminal prosecution of U.S. Postal Service employees and others who would defraud the U.S. Postal Service or utilize its services in their criminal schemes,” said United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “We are committed to dismantling and removing the threat posed by these criminal organizations flooding our communities with dangerous narcotics.”

Eileen Neff, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Area Field Office stated: “The U.S Postal Service, Office of Inspector General will utilize every resource available, to include our strong law enforcement partnerships, to prevent USPS employees from abusing positions of public trust by assisting with the trafficking of methamphetamine, as alleged in this case. This type of destructive and dangerous scheme will not be tolerated. We greatly appreciate the support of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Puerto Rico Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this matter.” 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Montes under the supervision of Julia Díaz-Rex, Deputy Chief for International Narcotics Unit. If convicted, the defendants could face a minimum penalty of 10 years up to life imprisonment and/or fines of up to $10,000,000. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). This multi-agency task force investigates and dismantles major drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics as well as the gang violence that accompanies drug trafficking.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated February 1, 2018