SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On November 29, 2023, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging five individuals with drug trafficking.
According to court documents, Luis Javier Vázquez-Álvarez, a.k.a. “Javi Popcorn;” Luis Norberto Vázquez-Álvarez, a.k.a. “Luisito;” Meilyn Vázquez-Álvarez, a.k.a. “La Gorda;” Raymond Omar de Jesús-Rivera, a.k.a. “Villa;” and Sandra Álvarez-Rodríguez are charged with conspiring to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine. Specific defendants are charged with respect to three substantive charges relating to the possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of cocaine on separate occasions.
The United States alleges that Luis Javier Vázquez-Álvarez and Luis Norberto Vázquez-Álvarez, known as the “Popcorn Brothers,” have led a drug-trafficking organization in Puerto Rico and spanning the eastern seaboard since at least March of this year. The organization’s members acquired kilograms of cocaine in Puerto Rico and used the United States Postal Service to send the kilograms to the continental United States.
Luis Javier Vázquez-Álvarez, who resides in Puerto Rico, organized the purchase and shipment of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the continental United States. Defendants Meilyn Vázquez-Álvarez (the sister of the “Popcorn Brothers”) and Sandra Álvarez-Rodríguez (their mother) mailed numerous parcels containing cocaine from post offices throughout the south of Puerto Rico. Luis Norberto Vázquez-Álvarez, who lived in New Jersey, received parcels containing cocaine for further distribution there. The government alleges that Raymond Omar de Jesús-Rivera also conspired in Puerto Rico to facilitate the trafficking of drugs to the United States through the mail.
Luis Javier Vázquez-Álvarez is currently on bail for a murder case in the municipality of Guayama and engaged in the charged offenses while on bail. Luis Norberto Vázquez-Álvarez is on bail from two separate cases in New Jersey -- for assault and for money laundering. He also participated in the charged drug trafficking activities while on bail on those two cases.
If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of ten years, up to life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The announcement was made by W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, U.S. Postal Inspector Sigfredo Martínez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office, Joseph González, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA, Denise Foster, and Puerto Rico Police Bureau Commissioner, Colonel Antonio López-Figueroa.
The United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Puerto Rico Police Bureau’s Guayama Strike Force investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Vance Eaton is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.