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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 10, 2015

Three Bronx Gang Members Sentenced To Life In Prison In Manhattan Federal Court For Racketeering, Murder, Conspiracy To Murder, Attempted Murder, Narcotics, And Firearms Charges

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CARLOS LOPEZ, 27, was sentenced on July 7, 2015, and FELIX LOPEZ-CABRERA, 25, and LUIS BELTRAN, 27, were sentenced on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, for racketeering, murder, conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, narcotics, and firearms charges. LOPEZ and LOPEZ-CABRERA were each sentenced to life in prison plus 35 consecutive years. BELTRAN was sentenced to life in prison.  LOPEZ, LOPEZ-CABRERA, and BELTRAN were sentenced for charges arising out of their involvement, from 2003 through 2012, in the criminal activities of the Bronx Trinitarios Gang (“BTG”), a violent street and prison gang that engaged in drug trafficking and multiple acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, throughout the New York region.  All three were convicted after a 12-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, who imposed the sentences.

In imposing sentence, Judge Engelmayer stated that “it doesn’t get more serious than premeditated murder, murder in cold blood,” and that the murders in this case had left a “permanent hole” in the lives of surviving family members of the murder victims, several of whom spoke at the sentencing hearings about the impact the defendants’ crimes have had on their lives and their families.

According to the Superseding Indictment and evidence admitted at trial:

The BTG operated primarily in the Bronx, New York.  It started in the prison system in the late 1980’s and subsequently spread to the streets.  LOPEZ-CABRERA was a member, and a leader, of the BTG who directed other members to carry out illegal and other activities as part of the racketeering conspiracy.  As part of their membership and participation in that enterprise, LOPEZ-CABRERA and LOPEZ murdered Raffy Tavares and Irving Cruz, both 19, in the vicinity of 81 East 181st Street, Bronx, New York, on May 23, 2010.  BELTRAN and LOPEZ-CABRERA murdered Raymond Casul, 23, in the vicinity of 271 West Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, New York, on March 31, 2009.  LOPEZ-CABRERA was also involved in the September 4, 2009, murder of David Avila-Gomez, 23, in the vicinity of 15 Mount Carmel Place, Yonkers, New York.  CARLOS LOPEZ was also involved in the November 20, 2010, murder of Freddy Polanco, 19, in the vicinity of 75 West 190th Street, Bronx, New York.  LOPEZ-CABRERA, LOPEZ, and BELTRAN also carried out multiple assaults and attempted murders of individuals believed to be members of rival gangs, including the Latin Kings, Dominicans Don’t Play, and the Bloods.  LOPEZ-CABRERA and LOPEZ also participated in a more than decade-long conspiracy to distribute kilograms of marijuana and crack cocaine in the Bronx.  The evidence at trial also showed that LOPEZ-CABRERA, LOPEZ, BELTRAN, and other members of the BTG possessed, brandished, and discharged a number of firearms in connection with their drug trafficking and racketeering activities with the Trinitarios gang.

FELIX LOPEZ-CABRERA was convicted of one count of racketeering; one count of racketeering conspiracy; two counts of conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering; four counts of murder in aid of racketeering; two counts of assault and attempted murder in aid of racketeering; one count of conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms and more of marijuana, 28 grams and more of crack cocaine, quantities of cocaine and oxycodone; two counts of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime; and four counts of discharging a firearm in connection with the murders of Raymond Casul, Raffy Taveras, Irving Cruz, and David Avila-Gomez.

CARLOS LOPEZ was convicted of one count of racketeering; one count of racketeering conspiracy; two counts of conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering; three counts of murder in aid of racketeering; one count of assault and attempted murder in aid of racketeering; one count of conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms and more of marijuana, 28 grams and more of crack cocaine, quantities of cocaine and oxycodone; two counts of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime; and three counts of discharging a firearm in connection with the murders of Raffy Taveras, Irving Cruz, and Freddy Polanco.

LUIS BELTRAN was convicted of one count of racketeering conspiracy; one count of conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering; one count of murder in aid of racketeering; and one count of discharging a firearm in connection with the murder of Raymond Casul.

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In addition to the prison sentences, LOPEZ, LOPEZ-CABRERA, and BELTRAN were sentenced to five years of supervised release.

Since 2009, as part of “Operation Patria” and “Operation Green Haze,” this Office has charged at least 147 members and associates of the Trinitarios Gang.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the New York City Police Department’s Bronx Gang Squad, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Joint Firearms Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Ortiz, Rachel Maimin, Micah W. J. Smith, Nola B. Heller, Sarah Krissoff, and Matthew Laroche are in charge of the prosecution.

Press Release Number: 
15-175
Updated July 10, 2015