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Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the filing of an indictment charging RAMON CRUZ, a/k/a “Guille,” and FRANCHESCA MORALES, a/k/a “Checa,” with conspiring to distribute heroin from 2010 through 2015, including trafficking heroin from the Bronx to Rutland, Vermont, which caused the death of a Vermont man (the “Victim”). CRUZ, MORALES, and JONATHAN SANTIAGO have also been charged with possessing firearms in connection with their attempt to murder a rival drug dealer. SANTIAGO was also charged with participating in the heroin conspiracy, as was NAJON FLANDERS, a dealer for CRUZ and MORALES.
CRUZ and MORALES were previously arrested on December 2, 2015, on a complaint. They will be arraigned on December 29, 2015, in magistrate’s court. SANTIAGO and FLANDERS are in state custody on unrelated charges and will now be transported to federal custody to face the charges filed today.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, Ramon Cruz and Franchesca Morales pumped massive quantities of heroin, not only to the streets of the Bronx, but to rural communities as far north as Rutland, Vermont. The defendants’ alleged heroin dealing led not only to the tragic overdose death of a Vermont man, but also a deadly gun battle with a rival drug dealer. Heroin is on the rise, both in our cities and in rural communities, but so is law enforcement’s effort to combat it. Today’s charges reflect the commitment of my office and our law enforcement partners to pursue and prosecute drug traffickers who are fueling the growing heroin epidemic.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “As alleged, the defendants used their name, ‘Flow Heroin Organization,’ not only in the marketing of their drug bags stamped with the word ‘Flow,’ but also as a business plan by trafficking heroin all the way from the Bronx to Vermont. In their wake they left gun violence to protect their territory and at least one known overdose victim. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate and work with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle such violent criminal organizations that threaten the innocent members of our community.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment returned today in Manhattan federal court:
Beginning in 2010 and up to December 2015, CRUZ, the leader of the Flow Heroin Organization (“Organization”), received kilogram-quantities of heroin from various suppliers. CRUZ and multiple workers broke down the heroin into smaller quantity “bundles,” containing individual baggies of heroin, which primarily bore the stamp “Flow.” SANTIAGO was, in 2010, a street deputy for CRUZ responsible for heroin sales. After SANTIAGO’s arrest in 2010, MORALES replaced him, although SANTIAGO continued to oversee MORALES from prison. From 2010 through 2015, CRUZ, MORALES, and SANTIAGO relied on street-level dealers, typically members of a gang (“Gang-1”), who sold the heroin to addicts in the Bronx. FLANDERS was one of the street level dealers.
In early 2012, the Organization began distributing Flow heroin in Rutland, Vermont. CRUZ and MORALES used various co-conspirators, including FLANDERS, to transport the heroin to Rutland and recruit street level heroin addicts to sell the heroin for them. On August 28, 2012, one of these co-conspirators provided Flow heroin to a local dealer, who in turn sold some of the Flow heroin to the Victim on the morning of August 29, 2012. The Victim then used the Flow heroin and later died of a heroin overdose. Even after the Victim died, and, indeed, despite knowing that their heroin had caused his death, CRUZ and MORALES continued to traffic large quantities of Flow heroin from the Bronx to Rutland.
The Organization also engaged in acts of violence to protect its territory and its members. In particular, in 2015, members of the Organization made efforts to shoot and kill a rival narcotics dealer (the “Rival”) who is a member of a gang (“Gang-2”) that is a rival to Gang-1. On October 31, 2015, the Rival fired shots at a group of individuals that included MORALES and another member of the Organization. CRUZ and SANTIAGO urged MORALES to kill the rival in retaliation, and CRUZ provided MORALES with a gun for this purpose. On November 1, 2015, MORALES, along with other members of the Organization, including a member of Gang-1 (“Victim-2”), fired shots at the Rival. Weeks later, on November 24, 2015, the Rival shot and killed Victim-2. Subsequent to this homicide, CRUZ and MORALES attempted to locate the Rival, who was in hiding, to murder him. On November 30, 2015, MORALES believed she had located the Rival; she and CRUZ armed themselves, met, and went to kill the Rival, but did not succeed.
CRUZ and MORALES were arrested the next day, December 1, 2015. Law enforcement seized a loaded gun from CRUZ’s apartment and a second loaded gun inside a hidden compartment in MORALES’s car. In connection with the arrest, law enforcement also seized hundreds of grams of heroin, the Flow heroin “stamp,” and tens of thousands of dollars.
CRUZ, 51, of the Bronx, New York, and MORALES, 27, of the Bronx, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin that resulted in a death, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of possession of a firearm that was discharged during a drug trafficking crime, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
SANTIAGO, 28, of the Bronx, New York, is charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of possession of a firearm that was discharged during a drug trafficking crime, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
FLANDERS, 25, of Orange County, New York, is charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentences imposed on the defendants will be determined by the Court.
Mr. Bharara thanked the FBI’s New York Field Division, the New York City Police Department, the New England Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Rutland, Vermont, Police Department, New York State Department of Correctional Services, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont for their work on the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell Capone, Robert Allen, and Shawn Crowley are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.