Four Men And One Woman Indicted For Transporting Cocaine And Money Between Puerto Rico And New York
SAN JUAN, PR – This morning, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCEDTF) dismantled a drug trafficking organization responsible for the transportation of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and drug money between Puerto Rico and the Continental United States, announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is in charge of the investigation with the collaboration of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
On August 23, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging five individuals with participating in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine between the year 2009 through December 2013. The defendants are: José G. Herrera-Olavarría, a.k.a. “Pito”; Richard Rodríguez-Heredia; Luis Rodolfo Mejía, a.k.a. “Tripa”; Emilio J. González-Espinal, a.k.a. “Buster”; and Cessy Martínez-Lantigua, wife of Herrera-Olavarría.
The investigation leading to today’s arrests uncovered that members of this organization traveled on commercial flights that departed from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMMIA) to the continental United States with kilograms of cocaine concealed inside suitcases. According to the indictment, the defendants and co-conspirators also mailed controlled substances to the continental United States.
The indictment alleges that the defendants sold the controlled substances in the continental United States and would have the profits from the sales sent back to Puerto Rico.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney José A. Contreras.
If found guilty, the defendants are facing terms of imprisonment from 10 years to life. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The case was investigated by agents from the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of DEA, HSI, FBI, US Coast Guard, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and PRPD's Joint Forces for Rapid Action.
The Airport Investigations and Tactical Team (AirTAT) operates in the District of Puerto Rico as an OCDEFT strategic initiative that is part of the National Airport Initiative. It is a multi-agency, co-located task force that includes DEA, HSI, FBI, USPIS, CBP - Office of Field Operations, and ATF. AirTAT also works closely with the Police of Puerto Rico. AirTAT’s mission is to identify, locate, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute TCOs and their operatives using the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMMIA), the Fernando Luis Rivas Dominicci Airport (FLRDA), and airport peripherals as platforms to smuggle narcotics, weapons, human cargo, counterfeit documents, illicit proceeds, and other contraband through these critical airport infrastructures.