Federal Indictment Charges Twenty-Four Members and Associates of a Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization Operating in Little Havana
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ari C. Shapira, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, Juan J. Perez, Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD); Jorge R. Colina, Chief of the City of Miami Police Department (MPD), and Gadyaces S. Serralta, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Florida, announced the unsealing of federal charges today against 24 members and associates of a drug trafficking and money laundering organization ("DTO”) operating in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami-Dade County, Florida and elsewhere. The defendants are charged in a 59-count indictment for their conduct related to drug trafficking, violent crime, federal firearms offenses, and money laundering.
“As your new U.S. Attorney, life-long South Florida resident and concerned citizen, I remain committed to supporting the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its dedicated law enforcement partners as we continue to target the members and associates of drug trafficking and violent criminal enterprises that threaten the public’s safety and security,” stated U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan. “As evidenced by the handing down of federal charges against 24 defendants today, we stand ready to prosecute those individuals who terrorize our local communities, fuel the narcotics epidemic and endanger the lives of others with gun violence.”
ATF Special Agent in Charge Ari Shapira said, “This indictment demonstrates, most clearly, the ATF commitment to reducing violent crime in South Florida. We will never waver in our efforts to battle the drug-fueled firearms violence that threatens our communities. I am proud to lead our dedicated law enforcement professionals and applaud their collective collaboration with our partners at all levels of government. The people of South Florida deserve no less.”
“This success is the product of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies collaborating with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to rid our communities of illegal narcotics and the violence that so often comes with it,” said Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan J. Perez. “All of those involved in this investigation worked relentlessly to ensure that everyone responsible would be brought to justice.”
“The U.S. Marshal Service is thankful to be a part of the law enforcement efforts that brought forth the dismantling of this criminal enterprise,” stated U.S. Marshal Gadyaces Serralta. “Together with our federal, state, and local partners we have made this community a safer place to live, work and play.”
The federal indictment and ”Motion to Seek Pre-Trial Detention” allege that from approximately December 7, 2013, through on or about October 30, 2018, in Miami-Dade County, Ulysses Cabrera, a/k/a “Uley,” a/k/a “Big Cuz,” 29, and Bernardo Quinonez, a/k/a “Macho,” 30, both of Miami, were the leaders and organizers of the continuing criminal enterprise, the DTO. Rafael Quinonez, a/k/a “Gigi,” a/k/a “Big Junkz,” 27, Henry Feliciano-Torres, a/k/a “Mafia,” 31, Daniel Quinonez, a/k/a “Julio,” 31 Marvin Melendez-Reyes, a/k/a “Homicide Marvin,” 22, Victor Smith, a/k/a “OGP,” 22, Hector Salgado, a/k/a “Teto,” 18, Issac Leal, a/k/a “Chico Black,” a/k/a “King Felony,” 28, Jose Luis Diaz, a/k/a “Lil Cuz,” 26, Peter Rodriguez, a/k/a “Hot Boy,” 25, Rogelio Ramos, 22, Peter Simo, a/k/a “Worm,” 20, Elizabeth Legon, a/k/a “Eli,” 29, Ricardo Perez-Castro, 62 Orlando Lorenzo, 52, Roberto Garcia, 24, Miguel Haber, 34, Pedro Rene Gonzalez, a/k/a “Pete,” 42, Eduardo Bobadilla-Orol, a/k/a “Chupa,” 62, Gilbert Cruz Baez, a/k/a “Bori,” 20, Alain Terry, a/k/a “Youngin,” Ronald Reyes-Melo, a/k/a “Cueyo,” 22, and Charlie Gonzalez, 28, are alleged members and associates of the criminal enterprise. Rogelio Ramos is an illegal alien from Honduras. All other defendants charged in the indictment are from Miami.
From as early as 2013, the DTO distributed cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana onto the streets of Little Havana, in Miami-Dade County, Florida and elsewhere. In November of 2017, a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, headed by ATF, began a proactive investigation into the Little Havana based DTO. The indictment announced today charges members, former members and associates of the DTO with various drug trafficking, money laundering and violent crimes.
According to allegations in the court docket, Cabrera supplied the cocaine and acted as a manager of the DTO. B. Quinonez oversaw the operation and man-power used to transform the cocaine into crack cocaine and distribution into the streets of Little Havana and elsewhere. Cabrera and B. Quinonez were charged in the indictment with being the principal administrators, organizers, supervisors and leaders of the continuing criminal enterprise, the DTO, and that they earned substantial income and resources from the criminal operation (Count 1).
The court docket further alleges that co-defendants, including Diaz, P. Rodriguez and R. Quinonez, were mid-level management members of the DTO, who worked to bring the narcotics into the South Florida community for distribution. R. Quinonez oversaw the distribution of marijuana by the DTO. Residences in Little Havana and Brickell, within Miami-Dade County, were used to manufacture, consume and distribute the illegal narcotics. The DTO used the area of 10th Avenue and 4th Street, in Little Havana as their base of operation. Co-defendants including Feliciano-Torres, D. Quinonez and Smith oversaw the local drug trade, as street-level narcotics distributors including co-defendants Leal, Ramos, Simo, Baez, Haber, Legon and Terry introduced the drugs directly into the community. Cabrera, B. Quinonez, R. Quinonez, Feliciano-Torres, D. Quinonez, Melendez-Reyes, Smith, Leal, Diaz, Ramos, Simo, Baez and Terry were collectively charged in the indictment with participating in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute the controlled substances (Count 2).
When rival drug dealers threatened the territory controlled by their criminal enterprise or when individuals questioned their authority, Cabrera and B. Quinonez allegedly directed armed members of the charged narcotics conspiracy to intimidate, maim, and in some instances kill others. As a result, innocent bystanders were shot and sustained serious physical injuries.
The indictment charges specific firearms offenses and violent criminal conduct, including:
Baez, a former member of the DTO turned rival, was charged with committing a drive-by shooting on October 30, 2017, in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy.
Cabrera, Bernardo Quinonez, Rafael Quinonez, Feliciano-Torres, Daniel Quinonez, Melendez-Reyes, Smith, Leal, Ramos, Simo, Haber and Terry were charged federally for their involvement in a drive-by shooting which occurred on October 31, 2017, November 2 and November 6, 2017, in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy.
Gonzalez, Bobadillo-Orol, Leal, Melendez-Reyes, Reyes-Melo, Gonzalez and Simo were charged with being convicted felons unlawfully in possession of firearms.
Cabrera, Bernardo Quinonez, Rafael Quinonez, Feliciano-Torres, Daniel Quinonez, Melendez-Reyes, Smith, Leal, Ramos, Simo, Haber and Terry were collectively charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking on April 3, 2018.
Cabrera, Bernardo Quinonez, Rafael Quinonez, Feliciano-Torres, Daniel Quinonez, Melendez-Reyes, Smith, Leal, Ramos, Simo, and Haber were also charged with collectively possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking on June 11, 2018.
Smith and Salgado were charged with committing an armed robbery of a Miami hotel guest on July 10, 2018.
Baez and Terry were charged for their involvement in a drive-by shooting which occurred on July 27, 2018, in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy.
Ramos was charged with being an illegal alien unlawfully in possession of a firearm on September 13, 2018.
In addition, Cabrera, Bernardo Quinonez, Rodriguez and Diaz were charged with laundering money, in that they allegedly conducted financial transactions affecting interstate and foreign commerce (including the purchase of property), with proceeds of the drug trafficking enterprise.
Law enforcement seized approximately 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, several grams of crack cocaine, more than 26 pounds of marijuana, 4 assault rifles, 10 pistols, 10 extended magazines, 10 semi-automatic firearms, a short barrel rifle, a revolver and hundreds of rounds of ammunition related to the criminal conduct charged in the indictment.
If convicted of the varied charges set forth in the indictment each defendant will face his/her respective sentencing guidelines. The maximum penalty for: participating in a continuing criminal enterprise is life in prison; participating in a conspiracy to possess controlled substances with the intent to distribute is life in prison; maintaining an establishment for distribution of controlled substances is 20 years in prison; possessing controlled substances with the intent to distribute is 20 years in prison; participating in a conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is life in prison; committing a drive by shooting is 25 years in prison; brandishing and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is life in prison; being a felon in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition is 10 years in prison; participating in a conspiracy to commit money laundering is 20 years in prison; and using a two-way radio to facilitate drug trafficking is 20 years in prison.
This case stems from Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This investigation and prosecution was carried out by members of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The South Florida HIDTA, established in 1990, is made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who, cooperatively, target the region’s drug-trafficking and money laundering organizations. The South Florida HIDTA is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which sponsors a variety of initiatives focused on the nation’s illicit drug trafficking threats.
This investigation, Operation Havana Ghost, is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the ATF, MDPD, including the MDPD Street Terror Offender Program (STOP), MPD and U.S. Marshals Service for their dedicated efforts to combat violent crime and drug trafficking in South Florida. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Breezye Telfair. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eloisa D. Fernandez is handling the forfeiture aspects of this case.
An indictment is a charging instrument containing allegations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Attached: Indictment and United States’ Omnibus Motion to Seek Pre-Trial Detention