20 Facing Federal Drug Charges Filed In Erie
ERIE, Pa. – Twenty individuals from various locations in the United States have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie and/or have been arrested on charges of violating federal drug laws, retaliation against a witness or informant, and money laundering, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
“Today’s actions demonstrate that our strategy to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal drug trafficking organizations is relentless,” stated U.S. Attorney Hickton. “This prosecution will go a long way toward making the citizens of Western Pennsylvania safer.”
The first, 16-count Indictment, named the following individuals who have been arrested:
Raul Gerardo Ruiz-Maldonado, 41, Houston, Texas;
Maria Remedios Urrutia, 23, Erie, Pa.;
Marco Antonio Melchor, 34, Erie, Pa.;
Dana Scott Ball, 37, Waterford, Pa.;
Jorge Daniel Montes-Cervantes, 25, Erie, Pa.;
Jenny Eileen Urrutia, 34, Elkhart, Ind.;
Reyna Urrutia, 35, Elkhart, Ind.;
Christina Urrutia Rojas, 29, Edinboro, Pa.;
Sammar Aimee Melchor, 33, Erie, Pa.;
Ancelmo Ayala, 40, Elkhart, Ind.;
Jose Merced Gomez Murillo, 54, Columbus, Ohio;
Oscar Mata Garcia, 26, Forrest City, Ark.;
Safa Gobah, 21, Forrest City, Ark;
Juan Jose Ramos, 28, Akron, Ohio;
Robert Jovaun Harris, 36, Erie, Pa.;
Efrain Ramon Pagan Rosario, 24, Erie, Pa.; and
Nathanael Ortiz Andino, 28, Erie, Pa.
According to the Indictment and additional information presented in Court, from June 2013 through January 2015, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute in excess of 150 kilograms of cocaine, ounces of high purity methamphetamine, and ounces of heroin. In addition, according to the Indictment and information presented in Court, multiple ounces of methamphetamine and heroin were distributed from the premises at 2709 West 12th Street, Erie, Pa., between August and December 2013 and multiple kilograms of cocaine and quantities of methamphetamine were seized in Erie in December 2013. In addition, according to the Indictment, a member of the conspiracy allegedly threatened to harm an individual for giving information to law enforcement. In September and October 2014, according to the Indictment, members of the conspiracy distributed more than 500 grams of cocaine, and defendant Marco Melchor engaged in money laundering activity in the purchase of a BMW vehicle.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence for all counts of life in prison, a fine of $38,250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
The second, two-count indictment, named Marco Antonio Melchor, 34, Erie, Pa., and Wilson Enrique-Reyes, 32, Lawrence, Mass., as defendants.
According to this Indictment, from in and around July 2014 to in and around January 2015, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. In addition, they are charged with using a communication facility in the commission of a drug trafficking crime.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $4,250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
The final, one-count indictment, named Dana Scott Ball, 37, William Condon, Jr., 26, Erie, Pa., and Vincent Jamal Carter, 37.
According to this Indictment, from in and around September 2013 to in and around January 2015, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one hundred kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $5,000,000 or both for each defendant. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
Assistant United States Attorney Marshall J. Piccinini is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Pennsylvania State Police, U.S. Border Patrol, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Organized Crime Section, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Detectives conducted the investigation leading to the indictments in these cases.
In addition to the indictments and arrests announced today, law enforcement operations as part of the investigation commenced at nine residences in Erie, Pa., one residence in Waterford, Pa., one residence in Conneaut Lake, Pa., one residence in Pittsburgh, Pa., one garage in Erie, Pa., three business locations in Erie, Pa., one business location in Pittsburgh, Pa.. Additional law enforcement activity occurred in Texas, Ohio, Indiana and Massachusetts. In addition, as part of today’s law enforcement operation, 20 vehicles were seized.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.