MARCH 20 (SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) – On March 7, 2013, a federal grand jury indicted 31 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced today by United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
The defendants are charged in a five-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public or private school and/or playground. The object of the conspiracy was to distribute “crack” (cocaine base), cocaine and marihuana at the San Isidro Ward, including but not limited to the drug points located at Monte Verde, Villa Hugo and Las Casitas sectors, and in other areas nearby within the Municipality of Canovanas, Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain and profit.
According to the indictment, from on or about the year 2007, the defendants conspired to purchase wholesale quantities of cocaine and marihuana in order to distribute the same in street quantity amounts in different areas of the Municipality of Canovanas. The main leader of the organization was Miguel Canales-Villalongo, aka “Buby,” “El Boss.” The other leaders were: José A. Rivera-Ayala, aka “Joito;” Luis M. De Jesús-López, aka “Willo;” Raymond E. Hiraldo-Figueroa; Juan C. Ortega-Rivera, aka “Kili” and Jorge Quiñonez-Osorio, aka “Jorgito.”
According to the indictment, the 31 co-conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy. These were: six leaders; one enforcer; three runners; 21 sellers; drug processors, look-outs and facilitators.
The indictment alleges that, as part of the manner and means of the conspiracy, the co-conspirators would commit home invasions, robberies and other violent acts against residents of the San Isidro Ward in order to intimidate and make them abandon their homes. Afterwards, they would invade and take over those properties in order to use them for their drug trafficking activities. It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that some members of the drug trafficking organization would routinely possess, carry, brandish and use firearms to protect themselves and their drug trafficking organization. Twelve members of the drug trafficking organization are facing one count for using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
“The efforts of the federal and state law enforcement agencies resulted in the dismantling of a violent criminal organization which held various communities hostage through its drug trafficking activities,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “These arrests validate the Justice Department’s commitment to hold ruthless drug traffickers responsible for selling narcotics and promoting the rampant violence we are seeing in our communities.”
Pedro Janer, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Caribbean Division stated: “The joint efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Puerto Rico Police Department and the US Attorney’s Office, has led to the arrest of these violent drug dealers who do not have any respect for the life of innocent people.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alberto López-Rocafort.
If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of ten years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $10 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.