Six Individuals Indicted For Drug Trafficking, Firearm Violations And The Murder Of Banker Maurice Spagnoletti
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On December 6, 2018, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a third superseding indictment against six defendants charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. Four of these individuals, Luis Carmona-Bernacet, a.k.a. “Canito Cumbre”; Yadiel Serrano-Canales, a.k.a. “Motombo”; Rolando Rivera-Solis; and Alex Burgos-Amaro, a.k.a. “Yogui”, were charged with the use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime resulting in the murder of banker Maurice Spagnoletti. The FBI was in charge of the investigation with the assistance of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD).
The indictment alleges that since the year 2000 and continuing up to 2014, in the municipalities of San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Guaynabo, and Bayamón, defendants Luis Carmona-Bernacet, a.k.a. “Canito Cumbre”; Yadiel Serrano-Canales, a.k.a. “Motombo”; Alan Lugo-Montalvo, a.k.a. “Allan Lugo Montalvo”; Fabiany Almestica-Monge; Rolando Rivera-Solis; and Alex Burgos-Amaro, a.k.a. “Yogui” intentionally possessed with intent to distribute crack, cocaine, and marihuana.
Counts three, four, and five allege offenses involving the use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime resulting in murder, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(j)(1). Counts three and four charge Carmona-Bernacet with the murders of William Castro on December 30, 2002, and René Cruz on December 6, 2006, respectively. In regards to the murder of Maurice Spagnoletti detailed in count five, the grand jury charged defendants Carmona-Bernacet, Serrano-Canales, Rivera-Solis and Burgos-Amaro, aiding and abetting each other, with counseling, commanding, inducing and procuring each other to carry a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and in the course of that crime, causing the death of Maurice Spagnoletti.
As part of the drug trafficking conspiracy, the superseding indictment alleges that the defendants established drug distribution points among several housing facilities owned by a public housing authority and other areas. The co-conspirators acted in different roles in order to further the goals of their organization and routinely possessed, carried, brandished and used firearms to protect themselves and the drug trafficking organization.
It is further alleged that co-conspirators legally employed other members of the conspiracy in their maintenance and service related companies in order to further their illegal activities. Leaders of the organization would practice the “Santería” religion to protect drug trafficking activities. The leaders usually identified themselves by wearing attire and amulets regularly used in the “Santería” religion. The leaders and their coconspirators would conduct “Santería” religious ceremonies or cults before engaging in significant criminal activities and/or other violent incidents to protect the leaders, the organization, and their drug trafficking activities.
“Federal, state and local law enforcement agents worked together with our prosecutors to target the leaders and key members of this violent gang, who are responsible for at least three murders, one of which was the murder of Maurice Spagnoletti in 2011,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Today’s charges prove our continuing commitment to remove armed, violent criminals from our neighborhoods and bring them to justice. Notwithstanding the indictment returned by the grand jury, as to the murder of Maurice Spagnoletti, the investigation continues.”
Douglas A. Leff, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, San Juan Division stated: “The prosecutors and investigators assigned to this case were unwavering in their tireless dedication to see that these brutal murders would not go unsolved. While the unimaginable pain of the family members of these victims can never be resolved, the justice system will ensure that those responsible pay dearly for their willingness to kill another human being in furtherance of their own greed.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Zenón-Matos is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 15 years; from 10 years up to life in prison for the drug conspiracy charge, and from five years up to life in prison for the firearm charges. For the murder of Maurice Spagnoletti, the defendants could face the death penalty or imprisonment for any term of years or for life. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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