The United States Concludes Prosecution of the Ñeta Prison Gang
SAN JUAN, P.R. – Yesterday, the United States successfully concluded its third trial against the top leaders and enforcers of La Asociación ÑETA prison gang in Puerto Rico. The three RICO trials resulted in the conviction of 14 ÑETA members to include the organization’s supreme leader and his main lieutenants and assassins. In total, the prosecution of La Asociación ÑETA resulted in the conviction of over 40 of the gang’s most important members.
The United States’ prosecution of La Asociación ÑETA began in the year 2016 when a federal grand jury issued an indictment charging over 40 members of this group for conspiring to violate the RICO Act, drug trafficking, and murder in aid of racketeering. La Asociación ÑETA was a criminal organization that engaged in drug trafficking and murder in the prisons of the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“PRDCR”). The main purpose of the organization was to make money. Originally, inmates formed La Asociación ÑETA as a means to advocate for the rights of inmates of the PRDCR. The enterprise, however, evolved into a criminal organization that engaged in drug trafficking and murder within the prisons of the PRDCR.
The enterprise made money from introducing and distributing multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin into the PRDCR prisons for profit and engaging in murders for hire. They introduced drugs into the prisons with the help of corrupt PRDCR correctional officers, civilians that worked inside of the prison system, people who visited inmates, and persons that from outside the prisons, threw drugs into the facilities (known as “pitcheos”), which were caught by members of the enterprise. In addition, members of the enterprise and their associates introduced cellular telephones into the prisons and charged a fee to other inmates for using the same. Members of the enterprise would use cellular phones to engage in drug trafficking and murder. Specifically, people outside of prison hired La Asociación ÑETA to kill persons who were incarcerated in the prisons of the PRDCR. Murders perpetrated by the organization included that of Mario Montañez-Gómez, a.k.a. “Emme” on August 27, 2014, and Alexis Rodríguez-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “Alexis El Loco” on November 6, 2014.
The convicted defendants included the leadership of the enterprise, its drug trafficking network, corrupt PRDCR correctional officers, and the members that perpetrated murder in furtherance of the enterprise. The ÑETA prosecution disrupted and decimated the gang. As a result, the United States helped clean up the PRDCR by ridding it of corrupt officials and holding accountable those responsible for introducing drugs and murdering others in prison for profit.
“I want to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the Assistant US Attorneys and support staff who worked so hard in the investigation and prosecution of this violent gang, the FBI, and the Department of Corrections agents and officials who participated in this substantial investigation which after three years resulted in today’s convictions,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “The success of this operation shows the continued teamwork of federal law enforcement and our state and local partners to reduce gang violence inside the prisons in Puerto Rico.”
“This prison cartel, which specialized in murder, assault, and drug trafficking, was as dangerous, and as sophisticated, as any organized crime network in modern history. Today’s verdicts represent a major milestone in federal law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute violent crime, regardless of where it takes place,” said Douglas A. Leff, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, San Juan Field Office.
Assistant United States Attorney Victor O. Acevedo-Hernández led the prosecution of this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander Alum and Scott Anderson were co-counsel at trial. The Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico in the investigation.
As a result of the ÑETA prosecution the following defendants are serving sentences that go up to life imprisonment: Fernando García-Marquez, a.k.a. “Fernan Sandwich/Emparedado/ Fernan/Carlos Vega;” Cynthia González-Landrau, a.k.a. “La Cana/La Princesa/La Presidenta;” Rolando Millán-Machuca, a.k.a. “Rolo;” Miguel Rivera-Calcaño, a.k.a. “Guelo/ Kikirimiau;” Roberto Casado-Berríos, a.k.a. “Bobe/Bobel;” Iván Ayala-Hernández, a.k.a. “Bambani/Bambo;” Giordano Santana-Meléndez, a.k.a. “Viejo Ten;” Carlos Báez-Figueroa, a.k.a. “Carlitos Guaynabo;” José Trinidad-Jorge, a.k.a. “Trini;” Ángel Bermúdez-Cartagena, a.k.a. “Apache/El Doctor;” José Cintrón-Mojica, a.k.a. “Jowito;” Victor Solano-Moreta, a.k.a. “Caballo;” José Castoire-Sánchez; Luis Ayuso-Walker, a.k.a. “Buringo;” Juan Lozada-Delgado, a.k.a. “Chino San Lorenzo;” Billy Andino-De Jesús, a.k.a. “Billy Cupey/Billy El Calvo;” Luis Rojas-Llanos, a.k.a. “Cachorro/Kchorro;” George Torres-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “Gordo Comerio;” José L. Nieves-Torres; Orlando Ruiz-Acevedo, a.k.a. “Gordo Ponce;” Raul D. Rosario-Maldonado, a.k.a. “Davi/Davo;” Juan R. Cruz-Santana, a.k.a. “Roldán;” José Marrero-Figueroa, a.k.a. “Tito San José;” Ramón Morales-Sáez, a.k.a. “Moncho/Monchi;” Carlos Santiago-Rivera, a.k.a. “Black/Blacky/El Negro;” José Díaz-López, a.k.a. “Culo De Pollo;” Jesús P. O’neill-Gómez, a.k.a. “Pastor;” Ángel I. Díaz-Santiago; and Pedro Fontanez-Pérez.
The following defendants were likewise convicted and are awaiting their sentence: Avelino Millán-Machuca, a.k.a. “Papito Machuca/El Fuerte/Viejo/Gordo;” Aníbal Miranda-Montañez, a.k.a. “Jowy;” Freddie Sánchez-Martínez, a.k.a. “Casco;” Ángel Cruz-Barrientos, a.k.a. “Diego/Cloche;” Alex Miguel Cruz-Santos, a.k.a. “Alex Cuquito;” José J. Folch-Colón, a.k.a. “Joel Folch/Gordo Folch;” Juan J. Claudio-Morales, a.k.a. “Claudio Canales/Claudio El Gordo;” Eduardo Rosario-Orangel, a.k.a. “Barba/Cholón;” Luis H. Quiñonez-Santiago, a.k.a. “Hiram;” Augusto Christopher-Lind, a.k.a. “Bengie Loiza;” Luis D. Ramos-Báez, a.k.a. “Danny Power;” David González-De León, a.k.a. “Bebe Cupey;” Osvaldo Torres-Santiago, a.k.a. “Bombilla/Baldo/Baldito;” José Velázquez-Maldonado, a.k.a. “Batata;” Roberto Martínez-Rivera, a.k.a. “Matatan;” José Sánchez-Laureano, a.k.a. “Veterano;” José González-Gerena, a.k.a. “Perpetua;” Andrés Del Valle-Ortega, a.k.a. “Randy/Andy Caimito;” and José R. Andino-Morales, a.k.a. “Gladiola.”