(BALTIMORE) - A federal grand jury has indicted nine individuals in connection with a heroin distribution ring that allegedly operated in Cecil County, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York. The indictment was returned on August 7, 2013.
The indictment and search warrant affidavits were unsealed upon the arrests of the defendants and the execution of eight search warrants of residences and vehicles associated with the defendants in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York. Approximately 100 agents and officers from 11 law enforcement agencies assisted in today’s arrests and search warrants.
The indictment arose from a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration - Baltimore District Office, DEA’s Wilmington, Delaware Resident Office, New York Division, Philadelphia Field Division, Santo Domingo country office and Mexico City country office; the Cecil County Drug Task Force (“CCDTF”), comprised of the Elkton Police Department, Cecil County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police and the Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office; the Delaware State Police; and the Philadelphia Police Department.
The following defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and were arrested today:
Luis Lugo-Santiago, a/k/a “Papi,” and “Andres Galvez,” age 38, of New York, New York;
Orlando Nunez de Leon, a/k/a “Alberto Ando,” age 36, of New York;
Jorge Ayala-Pizzaro, Jr., a/k/a “Black Pa,” and “Black Pop,” age 23, of Philadelphia;
Veroni Chavarria Cubero, a/k/a “Vero,” age 30, of Philadelphia;
Maria Paulino Perez, a/k/a “Nena,” age 40, of Philadelphia;
Abel Nunez-Reyes, age 29, of Philadelphia; and
Rachine Huron Garnett, a/k/a “Sheen,” “Red,” “Ray,” and “Blockhead, age 37, of Elkton, Maryland.
Two defendants are still being sought.
The indictment was announced by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge David G. Dongilli, Philadelphia Division of the DEA; Cecil County Sheriff Barry A. Janney, Sr.; Chief Matthew Donnelly of the Elkton Police Department; Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Cecil County State’s Attorney Ellis Rollins; and Colonel Nathaniel McQueen, Jr. of the Delaware State Police.
“Heroin is one of the leading causes of death in Maryland; with the recent spike from 245 overdose deaths in 2011 to 378 in 2012, more people die of heroin than murder,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Heroin dealers are selling death and despair.”
According to the indictment and affidavits filed in support of the search warrants, Lugo is a Dominican native living in New York, who is alleged to be running a heroin mill in the Bronx, New York. The organization allegedly processes between one and two kilograms of heroin per week for retail sale. Lugo has a number of customers in the Maryland and Delaware areas, including Rachine Garnett. Court documents allege that Jorge Ayala-Pizzaro and Veronica Cubero, who are in a romantic relationship, are the main couriers for the Lugo organization and Nunez de Leon packages heroin for the organization. According to court documents, Garnett often traveled to Philadelphia to provide Ayala-Pizzaro with cash and to obtain heroin. Garnett and Ayala-Pizzaro often exchanged vehicles during these meetings, and it is alleged that the money and drugs were hidden in mechanized hidden compartments, called “traps,” in the vehicles. The investigation included hundreds of intercepted telephone calls and text messages in which the defendants are alleged to discuss drug business, often using coded language.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Ayala-Pizzaro, Cubero, Perez, Nunez-Reyes and Garnett each had an initial appearance today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Lugo-Santiago had his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey and Nunez de Leon had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Perez is scheduled to have her initial appearance on Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. All the defendants were detained.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the DEA, Cecil County Drug Task Force, and Delaware State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein also recognized the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the District of Delaware, and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York and the New York City Police Department for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Kenneth S. Clark and James G. Warwick, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.