DEA, ICE, IRS, NIE, Hacienda, PRPD Operation Results In the Arrest of Sixteen Members of A Large Scale Marijuana Trafficking And Money Laundering Organization
San Juan, Puerto Rico-H.S. GARCIA, The United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, JEROME M. HARRIS, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), LYDIA ST. JOHN-MELLADO, the acting Special agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), BRIAN WIMPLING, the Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Criminal Investigations of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Orlando Silva, Supervisory Special Agent, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), JOSE LOZADA, the Director of the Puerto Rico Special Investigations Bureau (NIE), and Pedro Toledo, Superintendent, Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced the arrests of sixteen (16) members of a large scale drug trafficking and money laundering organization. These arrests are the result of a Federal Grand Jury indictment issued in the District of Puerto Rico on April 27, 2006, charging the individuals with violations of the Federal Controlled Substances Act, Title 18, United States Code, Section(s) 1956(a)(1)(A), (B), 1956(h) and 2.
The individuals arrested were: ALEXIS SAES ROSARIO, JOSE ROMERO LOPEZ, ARMANDO PEREZ MARTINEZ, AMERICA PEREZ, MARIA ARCE, ESPERANZA MACIAS, PEDRO ARCE, ANGEL PAMIES, MIGUEL MARTINEZ, GEOVANYS CRUZ HUERTAS, OMAYRA MANZANO ROSARIO, ALBERTO LOPEZ RIVERA, ANGEL ZARATE, IVETTE HERNANDEZ RIVERA, YONAIRA MELENDEZ HERNANDEZ, and SADIE ALEQUIN.
Specifically, the investigation revealed that the organization would smuggle marijuana into Puerto Rico from San Diego, California using couriers who would travel via commercial airlines. The narcotics would then be delivered to different drug points within the San Juan Metropolitan Area. Thereafter, the members of the organization in Puerto Rico would use Western Unions outlets in Pueblo Supermarkets located in Guaynabo and Bayamon to transfer the proceeds from sales back to San Diego, California. The investigation revealed that the organization sent over one million eight hundred thousand dollars ($1,800,000.00) in Western Union money remittances from 2001 through 2004. Arrests were conducted early in the morning on April 28, 2006 in Puerto Rico and California.
The Indictment was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) San Juan Office, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent In Charge (SAC) San Juan Office, the Puerto Rico Police Department, and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice’s Special Investigations Bureau ( Negociado de Investigaciones Especiales ) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Treasury Department (Hacienda) also collaborated with the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Aramis Rios.
Penalties for the narcotics offenses alleged in the indictment are a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and fines of not more than twenty five thousand dollars. The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.