MIAMI – Following a nine-week trial ending in guilty verdicts, two leaders and an associate of a violent drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood have been sentenced to prison terms.
Ulysses Cabrera, a/k/a “Uley,” a/k/a “Big Cuz,” 32, was sentenced to 372 months’ imprisonment. Bernardo Quinonez, a/k/a “Macho,” 34, was sentenced to 382 months’ imprisonment. Victor Smith, a/k/a “OGP,” 26, was sentenced to 330 months’ imprisonment.
From 2013 to 2018, Cabrera and B. Quinonez, both of Miami, led a continuing criminal enterprise that distributed cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana in the streets of Little Havana. Cabrera supplied the cocaine and managed the operation. B. Quinonez was a co-manager who supervised the people turning the cocaine into crack inside local homes. Smith oversaw the street-level drug sales. When rival drug dealers threatened the territory that they controlled or questioned their authority, Cabrera and B. Quinonez directed Smith and other armed members of the ring to intimidate, maim, and, in some instances, kill people. Innocent bystanders were sometimes shot and injured. Cabrera and B. Quinonez laundered the dirty drug money in various ways, including buying Opa-Locka real estate.
Law enforcement seizures in this case included approximately 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, several grams of crack cocaine, more than 26 pounds of marijuana, four assault rifles, 10 pistols, 10 extended magazines, 10 semi-automatic firearms, a short barrel rifle, a revolver and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
The jury convicted Cabrera of one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, one count of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, four counts of money laundering crimes, and four counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The jury convicted B. Quinonez of one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, one count of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, one count of drive-by shooting, one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, three counts of money laundering, seven counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and one count of maintaining an establishment to distribute controlled substances. It convicted Smith of one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, one count of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, as well as one count of armed robbery and one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Christopher A. Robinson, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division; Robert M. DeWitt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami; Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez, III, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD); Manuel A. Morales, Chief of Police, City of Miami Police Department (MPD); and Gadyaces S. Serralta, U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), made the announcement.
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 case and prosecution were 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.
ATF Miami, MDPD (including the MDPD Street Terror Offender Program (STOP)), MPD, FBI Miami, and U.S. Marshals Service investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ellen D’Angelo and Rilwan Adeduntan are prosecuting it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling asset forfeiture.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 18-cr-20946.