14 Members Of A Washington Heights Drug Trafficking Organization Charged With Distributing Heroin
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Keith Kruskall, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), announced today that PEDRO VICIOSO DE LIMA, a/k/a “Pep,” a/k/a “Pepo,” VICTOR HIDALGO, a/k/a “Jordan,” a/k/a “Vico,” DAVID PEREZ, a/k/a “Bori,” a/k/a “Macho,” JACINTO GARCIA, a/k/a “Cuba,” SIXTO VANCAMPER-BRITO, a/k/a “Cito,” CESAR GIL, a/k/a “Ralphy,” JUAN GIL CABRAL, a/k/a “Menor,” ANTHONY BELLIARD, a/k/a “Jafet Montas,” a/k/a “Café,” MAYRA MONSANTO, a/k/a “La Flaca,” RICKY ROSA, a/k/a “Pra,” a/k/a “Black,” a/k/a “Moreno,” MINERVA VENTURA, a/k/a “La Bori,” MARK VIERA, a/k/a “Leo,” a/k/a “Biz,” ROMEO SUNCAR, a/k/a “Stacks,” and ANTONIO YERIS ALMONTE, a/k/a “Ciobao,” have been charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin. Eleven of the defendants were arrested yesterday evening and this morning and will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger in Manhattan federal court this afternoon.
PEREZ and ROSA remain at large, and GIL will be transferred from immigration detention next week. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Colleen McMahon.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, these defendants operated a distribution network of highly addictive and dangerous drugs, which has been plaguing a Washington Heights community for years. Even after they realized the potency of the drugs they were distributing and selling – and the overdose risk those drugs posed – the defendants allegedly continued to sell their poison in order to protect their brand. Today’s arrests are part of our continued commitment, along with our law enforcement partners, to stop the flow of heroin and fentanyl onto the streets of New York City.”
DEA Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Kruskall said: “Today’s heroin is deadlier for two reasons: fentanyl potency and traffickers’ motives. Two to three milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal. And, traffickers, not chemists, are pushing their toxic mixture of heroin and fentanyl on our streets for no reason other than money. New York law enforcement is weeding out those responsible for the record number of fatal overdoses in our city and warning users that every dose could be their last dose.”
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said: “These individuals allegedly distributed fentanyl laced heroin out of a building on 167th street, with a total disdain for the lives of their customers. This investigation rids the community of Washington Heights of alleged criminals that continue to fuel the opioid epidemic. Opioid addiction touches families and communities across our country, and we will remain focused on criminals who seek to distribute these highly addictive drugs with little regard for the lives ruined.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “Abuse of heroin and the deadly additive fentanyl has cut a wide swath across our nation, affecting people from all walks of life, in every neighborhood. To combat this scourge, the NYPD and our partners on the Drug Enforcement Strike Force are relentless in our work to shut down illegal drug supplies, to send dealers away with meaningful prison sentences and, ultimately, to save New Yorkers’ lives. For dismantling this alleged dangerous drug organization based in Washington Heights, I congratulate and thank everyone involved in this important case.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment:
The defendants were members of a drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”) that operated in Manhattan, New York, and controlled heroin sales from a building at 501 West 167th Street (the “DTO’s Drug Building”) and the surrounding vicinity (the “DTO’s Drug Territory”). As a means of marketing its heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin, and to ensure that the only heroin sold in the DTO’s Drug Territory belonged to the DTO, the DTO placed stamps on the glassines of heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin that it sold to customers. Among the stamps the DTO used were “Annuit Coeptis,” “Toyota,” “Ras Baraka,” and “Porsche.” From July 2016 to October 2018, the DTO is estimated to have distributed more than 85 kilograms of heroin, much of it laced with fentanyl.
Glassines marked with the DTO’s stamps were recovered at the scene of fatal and nonfatal suspected overdoses of individuals who were believed to be customers of the DTO. For example, on March 29, 2018, an individual died of a suspected heroin overdose in a building across the street from the DTO’s Drug Building, and glassines marked with the stamps “Ras Baraka” and “Porsche” were recovered at the scene of the overdose death, along with a slip of paper with the name and phone number of a member of the DTO. Certain members of the DTO were aware of suspected overdoses resulting from the use of fentanyl-laced heroin sold by the DTO. The DTO was nevertheless reluctant to change the stamps it used to label the DTO’s heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin because the stamps were known by the DTO’s customers, and the DTO wanted to maintain its reputation for selling a strong product.
* * *
LIMA, 49, HIDALGO, 58, PEREZ, 36, GARCIA, 61, VANCAMPER-BRITO, 51, GIL, 26, GIL CABRAL, 28, BELLIARD, 29, MONSANTO, 59, ROSA, 32, VENTURA, 64, VIERA, 46, SUNCAR, 33, and ALMONTE, 26, each of New York, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiring to distribute heroin, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force. The Strike Force comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the New York State Police, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the New York National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Port Washington Police Department, and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative and part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDTEF”) program.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Jessica Greenwood, Aline R. Flodr, and Dominic Gentile 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.
WE WANT TO THANK ALL THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE DEDICATED THEIR LIVES TO KEEPING OUR COUNTRY SAFE.