Eight Individuals Indicted in the District of Puerto Rico as a Result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Investigation
NOV 13 SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - United States Attorney H.S. Garcia, District of Puerto Rico; Jerome M. Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Caribbean Division, Major General Manuel Antonio Lachapelle-Suero, President of the Dominican Republic National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD), and Patrick Daly, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, announced today the arrest of 5 members of a drug trafficking organization based in the Dominican Republic. This operation known as "OPERATION CASO M" targeted the drug trafficking activities of Jose Almonte-Peña and his associates through the Caribbean and to the United States.
The complexity of this case required the cooperation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Caribbean Field Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) San Juan Field Office which, on October 1998, initiated an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation of the aforementioned cocaine trafficking organization.
On September 24, 2003, a federal grand jury indicted Almonte-Peña, along with seven (7) additional codefendants, on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, in violation of Title 21 USC Section 952 (a) & 963, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of Title 21 USC section 841 (a)(1) & Title 18, USC Section 2.
As a result of this OCDETF investigation 8 arrest warrants had been issued against Almonte-Pena and his organization. Thus far, Operation Caso M has resulted in the seizure of 188 kilograms of cocaine and $184,000 in U.S. currency.
The following defendants, followed by their nicknames, were charged in the indictment:
Mendez-Rojas, Santana, Rosario, Paulino, and Holguin-Ovalle have been arrested. Almonte-Pena, Ubiera, and Garcia remain at large.
Penalties for convictions of the offenses alleged in the indictment, range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment, and fines up to $4,000,000.00 dollars.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial. The government has the burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
This investigation was conducted by the DEA Caribbean Field Division and the FBI San Juan Field Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Jared M. López.