75 Individuals Charged With Drug Trafficking In Puerto Rico Project Safe Neighborhoods Enforcement Effort
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On February 20, 2019, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against 75 defendants charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of, controlled substances, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), San Juan Strike Force, were in charge of the investigation. This case is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative.
The indictment alleges that beginning in or about the year 2006, the organization distributed crack, heroin, cocaine, marihuana, Oxycodone (commonly known as Percocet) and Alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax), all within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising the Villa Kennedy, Las Casas, El Mirador and Las Margaritas Public Housing Projects, and other areas, and within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds located in the Municipality of San Juan, Puerto Rico, all for financial gain and profit. The object of the conspiracy was the large-scale distribution of controlled substances for significant financial gain and profit. Members of the organization also possessed and distributed kilogram quantities of controlled substances, mainly cocaine, in Puerto Rico, for further distribution in the continental United States.
This drug trafficking organization was known as “Las FARC,” (Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Cantera). Las FARC operated out of Barrio Obrero Ward, including but not limited to El Guano sector, Playita sector, William Street, Eleven Street, Cantera sector, and the Public Housing Projects Villa Kennedy, Las Casas, El Mirador, and Las Margaritas, all located in Santurce, since in or about the year 2006. The goal of Las FARC was to maintain control of all the drug trafficking activities within the Santurce area by the use of force, threats, violence, and intimidation.
The 75 defendants acted in different roles in order to further the goals of their organization, to wit: leaders, drug point owners, runners, suppliers, enforcers, drug processors, sellers, and facilitators. Twenty-seven defendants are also charged with possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
As part of the conspiracy, leaders and/or drug point owners of the drug trafficking organization would routinely authorize and instruct other co-conspirators to provide free “samples” of narcotics to “customers” in order to promote the sales of a specific brand of drug at the drug points. Some of the co-conspirators used different types of barricades or barriers, including but not limited to large water tanks, access control barriers and/or steel gate poles, in order to block off the streets that gave access to the drug points. These barriers would stop the entry of law enforcement agents and/or members of rival gangs. Members of the drug trafficking organization would often “abduct” and assault rival drug traffickers as well as members of their own drug trafficking organization, in order to intimidate and maintain control of the drug trafficking activities.
Some of the defendants used part of the proceeds of their illegal activities to purchase legitimate assets and/or services, including but not limited to real estate properties, nightclubs, motor vehicles, vessels, clothing, trips, hotel accommodations, and private parties.
The defendants indicted today are: Emmanuel Pacheco-Marín, a.k.a. “Bebo Las Farc/Manuel/Cabezon”; Vladimir Natera-Abreu, a.k.a. “Vladi/Flako”; Jesús J. Rivera-Figueroa, a.k.a. “Colombiano”; Jose L. García-López, a.k.a. “Los Gemelos”; Luis A. García-López, a.k.a. “Los Gemelos”; Elvin O. Cruz-Verges, a.k.a. “Mellao”; Segismar Rodríguez-Rivera, a.k.a. “Segis/Seji/Ceji/Segui”; Luis Serrano-Nieves, a.k.a. “Gordo Bemba”; Christian O. Dalmau-García, a.k.a. “Negro/Dalmau”; Fabián Viloria-Sepúlveda, a.k.a. “Fabi/Favi”; Anthony Vazquez-Arroyo, a.k.a. “Buri”; Luis R. Espinal-Rivera, a.k.a. “Espi/Luis Pinal/El Gordo”; Ignacio Gual-Calderón, a.k.a. “Papulin/Papu”; Jonathan Rivera-Carrasquillo, a.k.a. “Moto/Motito/Goldo/Motito Junior”; Samuel Castro-Rivera, a.k.a. “Sammy Loba”; Carlos H. Torres-Carrasquillo, a.k.a. “Hiram/Buba”; Joset J. Rivera-Verdejo, a.k.a. “Jomar”; Jason Arroyo-Pérez, a.k.a. “Chapu/El Gordo”; Jean Carlos Candelario-Figueroa, a.k.a. “Yankee/El Flaco”; Nefty L. Oquendo-Rosario; Pedro Collazo-Prieto, a.k.a. “Pedrito”; José O. Baez-Rosa, a.k.a. “Bam Bam/Landi”; Edgar Nieves-Torres, a.k.a. “Bambi/Banb”; Jonathan O. Arce-Carrillo, a.k.a. “El Joyero/Jon El De Vista”; Gustavo J. Germes-Estrella, a.k.a. “Papo El Claro/Papo”; Dionicio Odali De La Rosa-Richiez, a.k.a. “Dioni”; Anthony González-Miranda, a.k.a. “Tony”; Carlos R. Nieves, a.k.a. “Carlitos Boada/Pablito”; John Blaymeyer-Quiñones, a.k.a. “Blade/Blay/Pichi”; Christian J. Castro-González, a.k.a. “Christian Poo”; Adams E. Aquino-Rosario, a.k.a. “Pirobo”; Alexis Fermaintt-Caraballo; Christian J. Sierra-Pérez, a.k.a. “Bampi/Vampi”; Victor Rivera-Galindez, a.k.a. “Bin Laden”; Luis B. Louzao, a.k.a. “Panda/Benji”; Edgardo A. Benitez-Guivas, a.k.a. “Buda/Buda De Las Margaritas”; Ediberto García-López, a.k.a. “Mafia”; Geovanny Morales-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “Gova/Jova Morales”; Luis A. Piris-Torres, a.k.a. “Piris/Cheo/Cheito”; Luis García-Morlas, a.k.a. “Piolin”; Mario O. De-Jesús-Ocasio, a.k.a. “Caballo/Mario Caballo”; Pedro J. Cintron-Álvarez, a.k.a. “Torombolo/Toro”; José A. Colón-Otero, a.k.a. “Chino/Cheo/Cheito”; Carlos I. Rodríguez-Alvarado, a.k.a. “Teta/Teton/Blanquito/Carlos Teta”; Fernando Hilario-Figueroa, a.k.a. “Nando de Playita/Boti”; Rafael Maldonado-Segarra, a.k.a. “Pucho de la Boada”; Ivette M. Rosado-Pantojas, a.k.a. “La Pata/ISIS”; Luis G. Robert-Torres, a.k.a. “Luigi/Cuajon Luis/Luiyo”; Gilberto Guise-Calderón, a.k.a. “Bereta/Bereta de Cantera”; Christian López-Díaz, a.k.a. “Christian 25”; Edwin Rosa-Colón, a.k.a. “Glock”; Luis O. Cabán-Rodríguez; Carlos M. Pantojas-Ruano, a.k.a. “Carlito”; Leslie R. Dominguez-Miranda, a.k.a. “Raul”; Christian J. Huertas-Méndez, a.k.a. “El Cano”; Christopher A. Espinal-Rivera, a.k.a. “Bofel/Bofer”; Dennis J. Hernández-Rivera, a.k.a. “Tico/Kiko/Tico de la Calle Williams/Pipin”; Joel C. Nieves-Torres; Jonathan Meléndez-Otero, a.k.a. “Goldo”; Jonathan Pereira-Santiago, a.k.a. “Flaco”; Jorge D. Alicea-Cintrón, a.k.a. “Machete”; José M. Santiago-Montañez, a.k.a. “Ojitos Lindos/Pito/Ojitos Bellos”; José J. Piris-Hernández, a.k.a. “Piris”; Juan M. Pérez-Méndez, a.k.a. “Kun”; Luis A. Rosa-Díaz, a.k.a. “Chino”; Michael G. Marrero-Castro, a.k.a. “Conejo/Conejito/Cone”; Nelson A. López-Quiñonez, a.k.a. “Toston”; Kelvinson Castillo-Castillo, a.k.a. “Duran de la Calle Williams”; Pedro J. Massas-Rivera, a.k.a. “Five/Pedrito Massa”; Reynaldo M. Díaz-Verges, a.k.a. “Rey/Barber”; Nelson L. Cuevas-Ocasio, a.k.a. “Luli”; FNU LNU, a.k.a. “Gocho/Erick J. Rodriguez-Velez/Carlitos”; and Isadora Nieves-Cruz, a.k.a. “Pinky/Pinky Curvy”.
Vladimir Natera-Abreu, a.k.a. “Vladi/Flako” is facing one count of money laundering for the purchase of real estate properties in the municipality of Guaynabo with proceeds from drug trafficking. All the defendants are facing a narcotics forfeiture allegation of $75,949,040 in U.S. currency and four other properties listed in the indictment.
Two other members of the drug trafficking organization, Edison Merced-Olivera, a.k.a. “Chino/Chino Oriental/El Loco/Chinos Las Margaritas/Pai” and Waldemar Febres-Sánchez, a.k.a. “Walde,” were charged in a separate indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, distribution of controlled substances, and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. These two defendants are facing murder charges at the state level for their alleged participation in the murder of Carlos Giovanny Báez-Rosa, a.k.a. “Tonka/Jova,” a known leader of the drug trafficking organization.
“Disputes between gang rivals lead to many shootings and murders, including innocent bystanders who are caught in the crossfire,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “I am grateful for the tireless efforts of the investigators and prosecutors who have dismantled Las FARC with today’s indictment. We will continue to investigate these violent criminal organizations with our law enforcement counterparts, and send a clear message that drugs, firearms, and violence will not be tolerated in our neighborhoods.”
Douglas A. Leff, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-San Juan Field Office said: “Removing drug traffickers, violent offenders from the streets and dismantling violent gangs remains one of the highest priorities of the FBI in Puerto Rico as we seek to provide the citizens of Puerto Rico with a better place to live and raise their families. Today’s operation was made possible through the hard work of Special Agents and Task Force Officers assigned to the FBI Safe Street Task Force, and our dedicated partners at the United States Attorney’s Office; Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Marshal Service; Homeland Security Investigations; Internal Revenue Service; Police of Puerto Rico’s Strike Force; San Juan Municipal Police; Puerto Rico Department of Correction; and Puerto Rico Air National Guard. FBI Special Agents and Tactical personnel from FBI Headquarters and several other FBI field offices, conducted several of today’s arrests. Special appreciation is extended to San Juan Police Commissioner José Caldero for the outstanding task force officers from his department, one of whom served as the lead investigator on this case.”
DEA Caribbean Division Special Agent in Charge, A.J. Collazo stated: “DEA and the Caribbean Division is proud of being part of this successful operation. Whenever we work together, favorable changes happen for our citizens and thanks to these changes, our Puerto Rican families are safer. We can’t allow these organizations to obstruct the right of peace in the Public Housing Projects in Puerto Rico. This organization was responsible for placing crack, heroin, and marijuana in the hands of lives who later suffered addiction, death and other situations, none of them positive for them, their families, nor society. These individuals are under arrest for the immeasurable damage they caused; life is priceless, and now they are behind bars to see justice done. The Men and Women of DEA will not rest and we will go after many more, when they least expect it.”
“The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the very distribution of their illegal drugs. Without these ill-gotten gains, the traffickers cannot finance their organizations. The role of IRS Criminal Investigation in narcotics investigations is to follow the money, and we are proud to provide our financial expertise as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and bring these criminals to justice. Today’s announcement demonstrates our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust,” stated Michael J. De Palma, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alberto López-Rocafort and María L. Montañez-Concepción are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Today’s arrests are part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a federal program designed to bring together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The PSN program was reinvigorated in 2017, as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting each community’s most violent criminals. All U.S. Attorney’s Offices work in partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as the local civilian community, to develop effective, targeted strategies to reduce violent crime. This case is a product of that collaborative effort.
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