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Press Release

Acting U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Leader And Members Of Cross-Country Drug Trafficking Organization

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging JOSE SERGIO MARTINEZ-AGUILAR, a/k/a “Orejon,” a/k/a “Andy,” a/k/a “Pa,” VLADIMIR PULSTILINKOV, a/k/a “The Russian,” MIGUEL LOVOS, SEBASTIAN RAMOS, a/k/a “Nimo,” and RICARDO RUIZ-SALINAS with narcotics trafficking offenses based on their alleged participation in an international drug trafficking organization that distributed large quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine.  MARTINEZ-AGUILAR, PULSTILINKOV, and LOVOS also are charged with possessing and using firearms in connection with the narcotics trafficking.

MARTINEZ-AGUILAR and LOVOS were previously charged in Complaints filed in the Southern District of New York, and were taken into custody in California on June 26, 2020, and subsequently presented before magistrate judges in the Central District of California.  RAMOS and RUIZ-SALINAS were taken into custody in New York earlier today, and will be presented before Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn today in Manhattan federal court.  PULSTILINKOV currently remains at large.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Jose Sergio Martinez-Aguilar led an international drug trafficking organization that imported potentially lethal drugs from Mexico and distributed them throughout the U.S., including right here in New York.  Now, thanks to the efforts of HSI, Martinez-Aguilar and his co-defendants are in custody and facing serious federal charges.”

HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said:  “As alleged, Martinez-Aguilar and his crew funneled highly addictive drugs across the southern border and from coast to coast, seeking to make a hefty profit off those addicted to his product.  This case makes it clear that HSI’s capabilities across borders and across the country leave no one safe from the long arm of the law, and justice will be served.”

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, the Complaints charging MARTINEZ-AGUILAR and LOVOS, other court filings related to this matter, and statements made in court[1]:

Since at least June 2019, MARTINEZ-AGUILAR has led a drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) that imports narcotics into California from Mexico, and then distributes those narcotics in California and other parts of the country, including New York City.  The DTO is responsible for distributing large quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine.  PULSTILINKOV, LOVOS, RAMOS, and RUIZ-SALINAS are members of the DTO who worked with MARTINEZ-AGUILAR to traffic the DTO’s narcotics.

During the investigation, communications among members of the DTO intercepted pursuant to court orders revealed a significant drug trafficking operation, led by MARTINEZ-AGUILAR, that imported and distributed multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics across the country.  On one occasion, LOVOS discussed with MARTINEZ-AGUILAR obtaining a job near the U.S.-Mexican border, “because things are hot over there” and he could “cross people” and narcotics into the United States.  On another occasion, MARTINEZ-AGUILAR bragged to an associate that narcotics distributed by other drug trafficking crews “[wa]s not even half the quality of what I have.”  The DTO supplied drugs to dealers for distribution on the streets of New York City.  For example, in June 2020, law enforcement seized a package shipped by MARTINEZ-AGUILAR and his DTO associates from California to the New York City area that was found to contain over nine kilograms of fentanyl and more than a kilogram of a heroin/fentanyl mixture. 

On June 26, 2020, law enforcement searched a stash house operated by the DTO in California, pursuant to a court-authorized warrant.  During the search, law enforcement recovered a stash of heroin, methamphetamine, and other suspected narcotics, as well as multiple handguns and assault rifles.  LOVOS was found and arrested at the stash house during the execution of the warrant.  LOVOS, MARTINEZ-AGUILAR, and PULSTILINKOV possessed and used firearms in connection with the DTO’s narcotics trafficking business.

*                      *                     *

MARTINEZ-AGUILAR, 39, of Thermal, California, and LOVOS, 31, of Indio, California, are each charged with three counts of narcotics conspiracy and one count of firearms possession in connection with drug trafficking.  PULSTILINKOV, 44, of Indio, California, is charged with two counts of narcotics conspiracy and one count of firearms possession in connection with drug trafficking.  RAMOS, 29, and RUIZ-SALINAS, 43, of Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy.  A chart containing the charges and maximum and minimum penalties for the defendants is set forth below.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Count

Charge

Defendant(s)

Maximum/Minimum Penalties

1

Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics – Cocaine

 

21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(b)(1)(A)

JOSE SERGIO MARTINEZ-AGUILAR

VLADIMIR PULSTILINKOV

MIGUEL LOVOS

SEBASTIAN RAMOS

RICARDO RUIZ-SALINAS

Life imprisonment

 

Mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment

2

Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics – Fentanyl, Heroin

 

21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(b)(1)(A)

JOSE SERGIO MARTINEZ-AGUILAR

MIGUEL LOVOS

 

Life imprisonment

 

Mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment

3

Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics - Methamphetamine

 

21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(b)(1)(A)

JOSE SERGIO MARTINEZ-AGUILAR

VLADIMIR PULSTILINKOV

MIGUEL LOVOS

Life imprisonment

 

Mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment

4

Firearms Offense

 

18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

JOSE SERGIO MARTINEZ-AGUILAR

MIGUEL LOVOS

Life imprisonment

 

Mandatory minimum of 5 years’ imprisonment

5

Firearms Offense

 

18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

VLADIMIR PULSTILINKOV

Life imprisonment

 

Mandatory minimum of 5 years’ imprisonment

 

*          *          *

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI, the New York City Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.  She also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance in connection with the arrests of certain of the defendants.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Rushmi Bhaskaran and Jarrod L. Schaeffer are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment and the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and Complaints, and the descriptions set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Contact

Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated July 6, 2020

Topics
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 20-140