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Press Release

Large-Scale, Miami-Based Marijuana Trafficker Convicted In Manhattan Federal Court

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

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DANIEL FERNANDEZ, 35, was found guilty yesterday in Manhattan federal court of marijuana trafficking. FERNANDEZ was convicted following a two-and-a-half-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As a member of a sophisticated network of drug traffickers, Daniel Fernandez profited handsomely from many years of distributing truckloads of marijuana to the New York City area. He now stands convicted, along with more than 50 other defendants whose massive drug dealing network was stopped as a result of a successful, multi-agency law enforcement effort.”

According to the charging documents in this case and evidence presented at trial:

On August 21, 2012, this Office announced the unsealing of a 40-count Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Indictment (the “RICO Indictment”) charging nine individuals with participating in a massive racketeering organization led by Manuel Geovanny Rodriguez-Perez (the “Rodriguez Enterprise”) whose members allegedly sold massive quantities of marijuana; engaged in murders and other violent acts; transported and laundered millions of dollars; obstructed justice and committed perjury; and engaged in firearms offenses.

FERNANDEZ, a Miami-based marijuana broker, was one of Rodriguez-Perez’s principal suppliers of marijuana. From at least 2007 through October 2010, he directly supplied Rodriguez-Perez with over a ton of marijuana, which was funneled into Washington Heights, New York for distribution throughout the New York City area.

FERNANDEZ was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms and more of marijuana, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life. The charges against him arose out of a multi-year investigation titled “Operation Green Venom,” a coordinated multi-agency investigation that was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“ICE HSI”) and first announced in October 2010. With his conviction, a total of more than 50 defendants have been convicted in United States v. Manuel Geovanny Rodriguez-Perez, et al., 10 Cr. 905 (LTS), and related cases. Those defendants include former Rock-a-fella music founder Kareem Burke, a/k/a “Biggs,” who received a sentence of 60 months in prison, and High Times Magazine editor Matthew Woodstock Stang, a/k/a “Magazine Guy,” who has not yet been sentenced. Trial of the defendants charged in the RICO Indictment is scheduled for March 2014. The charges against these remaining defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of ICE HSI and the New York City Police Department. He also thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Bergen County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office; the Englewood, New Jersey, Police Department; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the City of New York Department of Investigation for their assistance. Mr. Bharara added that the investigation is continuing.

The prosecution of the cases arising from “Operation Green Venom” is being overseen by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amie N. Ely, Sarah E. McCallum, Jessica Ortiz, and Sarah Paul are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Lockard is responsible for the forfeiture proceedings.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-227