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Press Release

Marijuana Dealer Found Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court Of Three Murders

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, and James T. Hayes, Jr., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that KEVIN VENTURA was found guilty yesterday in Manhattan federal court of murder in connection with an arson and a marijuana distribution conspiracy, two counts of murder in connection with a marijuana distribution conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and murder-for-hire. VENTURA was convicted after a twelve-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “This case is a prime example of how federal resources can successfully be brought to bear on ‘cold case’ murders in New York. We are proud to work with our partners at ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and the NYPD to bring justice to victims and their families after so many years of waiting.”

ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes, Jr. said: “The defendant in this case protected his drug smuggling empire through violence, including arson and murder, and terrorized New York City neighborhoods for years. The verdict holds the defendant accountable for his crimes and demonstrates HSI's commitment to working with our law enforcement partners in combating violent drug organizations that value profits more than human lives.”

According to the evidence introduced at trial, other proceedings in this case, and documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court:

In the mid-1990s, VENTURA managed the day-to-day operations of his father’s marijuana distribution business in the vicinity of 207th Street and Sherman Avenue in northern Manhattan. On April 11, 1995, VENTURA and a number of his associates in the marijuana business went to a discount store at 3856 10th Avenue that was operating a rival marijuana business, intending to set a fire in the store to shut down the competition. One of VENTURA's associates shot and killed the store clerk, Noel Montanez, while VENTURA set fire to the store.

In the summer of 1996, VENTURA hired two brothers to kill VENTURA’s cousin, Eugene Garrido, in exchange for $10,000, because of a dispute over the family marijuana business. On August 19, 1996, one of the two brothers shot and killed Garrido in the lobby of his apartment building at 34 Bogardus Place in northern Manhattan. A bystander, Carlos Penzo, who attempted to stop the fleeing shooter, was also shot and died from his injuries approximately a week later.

VENTURA, 42, of New York, New York, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Koeltl on March 14, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of ICE HSI and also thanked the New York City Police Department for its assistance in the case.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Margaret Garnett and Ryan P. Poscablo are in charge of the prosecution.

U.S. v. Kevin Ventura S3 Indictment

Updated May 18, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-369