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Press Release

U.S. Postal Worker And Four Others Arrested For Shipping Heroin And Fentanyl Through The Mail

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

Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) in New York, Matthew Modafferi, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Area Field Office of the U.S. Postal Service, Officer of Inspector General (“USPS-OIG”), and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced the unsealing of an indictment today charging LUIS GAMEZ, HUGO RICHARD VILLANUEVA TORRES, DANIEL ORTIZ, JOSE LUIS MARTINEZ ROSARIO and JAYSON COLON with participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl in connection with a scheme to transport those narcotics through the U.S. mail.  GAMEZ was arrested on Sunday evening in California and was presented yesterday before a federal magistrate judge in the Central District of California.  VILLANUEVA, ORTIZ, MARTINEZ, and COLON were arrested yesterday in New Jersey and were presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses that same day.   The case is assigned to United States District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, the defendants are charged with trafficking large quantities of fentanyl and heroin.  We thank our partners at HSI and USPS-OIG for their outstanding work in stopping the shipment of narcotics through the U.S. mail.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said: “These defendants allegedly operated a cross-country drug distribution network which placed profits above all else, including the safety of our communities. During this week's operation, we arrested 5 members of this drug trafficking organization.  More importantly, we seized over 6 kilograms of fentanyl and heroin, which contain numerous fatal doses of these dangerous drugs.  Working with our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Postal OIG and the United States Attorney’s Office, SDNY, HSI will continue to protect the public from those who would exploit our communities for their own financial and personal gain.”

USPS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Matthew Modafferi said: “The Special Agents of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General are dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the Postal Service and its personnel. When a Postal Service employee allegedly decides to break the public’s trust and participates in a scheme to transport illegal narcotics through the U.S. Mail, USPS OIG Special Agents will tirelessly work to bring those responsible to justice.  The USPS OIG is thankful for the great relationships we have developed with our law enforcement partners and with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to combat the shipment of illegal narcotics through the U.S. Mail.”

USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said:  “Using the U.S. Mail to facilitate the transportation of deadly fentanyl was one of many mistakes allegedly made by these subjects. Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners will arrest and bring to justice anyone who breaks the sanctity of the trust placed in the U.S. Mail, no matter where they are found.”

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court and in other court papers and proceedings[1]:

From at least in or about May 2020 up to and including in or about February 2021, LUIS GAMEZ, HUGO RICHARD VILLANUEVA TORRES, DANIEL ORTIZ, JOSE LUIS MARTINEZ ROSARIO, and JAYSON COLON participated in a conspiracy to distribute kilograms of fentanyl and heroin.  The conspirators transported kilogram-quantities of fentanyl and heroin, as well as narcotics proceeds, in packages shipped through the United States mail with the assistance of ORTIZ, an employee of the U.S. Postal Service.

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GAMEZ, 30, of Riverside, California, VILLANUEVA, 29, of Belleville, New Jersey, ORTIZ, 41, of Harrison, New Jersey, MARTINEZ, 44, of Harrison, New Jersey, and COLON, 42, of Kearny, New Jersey, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and one kilogram or more of heroin.  That charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI-New York, USPS-OIG, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, and thanked HSI-Newark and HSI-Riverside for their assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kedar Bhatia and Andrew A. Rohrbach are in charge of the prosecution.


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


James Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated March 9, 2021

Press Release Number: 21-049