OCT 09 (FAJARDO, Puerto Rico) - On September 27, 2012, a federal grand jury charged 53 individuals in a superseding indictment as a result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD)- Fajardo Strike Force, United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced today. The defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine base (“crack”), cocaine and marihuana in the following housing projects in the Municipality of Fajardo: Santiago Veve-Calzada, Puerto Real and Villa Fajardo, Mansion del Sapo Ward, Maternillo Ward, Quebrada Vueltas Ward, Amparo Street also known as Calle Chiquita, and other areas within the Municipality.
According to count one of the superseding indictment, from on or about September 2010 through on or about November 2011, defendants Julio L. De Jesús-Gómez, Tania De Jesús-Gómez and Julia Gómez-Calcaño conspired to conceal and disguise drug trafficking proceeds derived by Julio L. De Jesús-Gómez and others, as legitimate income derived from the activities of Luquillo Boat Glass, Inc. These three defendants would purchase real estate and other assets in theirs and other persons’ names and in doing so would misrepresent the source of the money. Some of the financial transactions conducted with drug trafficking proceeds were the purchase of land located at Quebrada Fajardo Ward for $75,000, the purchase of real estate property located at Mansiones Punta del Este for $265,000, and the purchase of a manager’s check for $10,000, among others.
Count two charges defendants Tania De Jesús-Gómez and Julia Gómez-Calcaño with tampering with a witness. They engaged in misleading conduct by telling an individual, known as N.M.G., what to respond to law enforcement officers with regards to the purchase of real estate properties with the intent to hinder, delay and prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer of information relating to the commission of a Federal offense.
Count three of the indictment charges 52 defendants with conspiracy to commit drug trafficking. As part of the manner and means of the conspiracy some of the defendants and their co-conspirators would use private vessels and vessels from the Puerto Rico Maritime Transportation Authority to smuggle into Puerto Rico multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine and heroin from outside the jurisdiction of the United States via the Island Municipalities of Vieques and Culebra. The defendants would conceal multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin in vehicles that were transported in ferries from Vieques and Culebra to the Fajardo port.
It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that members of the drug trafficking organization would introduce cocaine and heroin shipments through the east part of Puerto Rico, including the Maternillo Ward River in Fajardo. They would also use the postal service and legitimate businesses to transport and ship large amounts of undeclared U.S. currency derived from the sales of controlled substances through flights between Puerto Rico and the continental United States to further their drug trafficking activities.
According to the superseding indictment, the defendants would use force, violence, and intimidation in order to threaten rival drug traffickers as well as members of their own organization in order to maintain control of the drug trafficking activities. The co-conspirators would sell the narcotics in front of minors and would employ juveniles under the age of 18, to distribute narcotics.
The 52 co-conspirators had many roles in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including three leaders, one manager, six drug owners, four enforcers, one supplier, 10 runners, two drug processors, and 24 sellers. Twenty-three members of the drug trafficking organization are facing one count for using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Defendants Julio L. De Jesús-Gómez, Tania De Jesús-Gómez and Julia Gómez-Calcaño are facing money laundering forfeiture allegations which includes a money judgment of $500,000, and three properties in Fajardo.
“The criminal activity laid out in this superseding indictment shows the lengths people will go to in order to sell drugs and conceal their profits. However, our commitment to fight back and remove these individuals from our society is unwavering,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force will continue maximizing all of its combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who disregard our laws and try to smuggle illegal contraband into our jurisdiction.”
“Today’s arrests stands as a warning to those individuals whose greed drives them to pollute our streets and schools with poisonous contraband. Our message to drug vendors is – deal at your own risk. We are going to find you and you are going pay a severe and certain penalty in federal court,” said Pedro Janer, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Caribbean Division.
"This case exemplifies that those involved in money laundering and the importation of narcotics and other contraband into and out of our country will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan “HSI thanks our local, state and federal law enforcement partners for their significant cooperation in dismantling this narcotics and money laundering organization.”
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys César Rivera-Giraud and Eugenio Lomba. The defendants are facing a minimum of 10 years up to life in prison. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The defendants were the targets of a long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, and responsible for importing cocaine and heroin into Puerto Rico. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.