OCDETF Operation Burro-Colorao (Red-Donkey)
US Attorneys Office Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative Produces Over Forty Million Dollars in Seizures
DEC 2 -- H.S. GARCIA, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, JEROME HARRIS, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Division, MARCIAL O. FELIX, Resident Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and PEDRO TOLEDO, Superintendent, Police of Puerto Rico, announced that on December 1, 2005, a Federal Grand Jury returned two (2) indictments against forty-eight (48) members of a violent drug trafficking organization. The first indictment charges ALFREDO MARTINEZ FIGUEROA, a.k.a "Freddie El Colorao", leader of this criminal organization, along with forty-one (41) additional co-defendants, with two (2) counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of narcotics; and one (1) count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Amongst the 41 defendants are EMILIANO-GUZMAN-MADERA a.k.a. "El Burro" and ANIANO-MIRANDA-BONILLA a.k.a. "Tato El Gordo", identified in the indictment as the owners of the drugs sold. Drug and money laundering forfeiture allegations were also filed in the indictment over the amount of forty million dollars against any real or personal property related to the commission of the offenses alleged in the indictment. The second indictment charges six (6) additional co-defendants with one (1) count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of narcotics; and one (1) count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846, 841(a)(1) 853, and 881, and Title 18, United States Code, Sections 982, 1956(h), 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(i).
Federal and state law enforcement agents assigned to the DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area under the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico, Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative engaged in the investigation of this violent drug trafficking organization operating in the area of Ponce. This new federal initiative involves the implementation of intensive law enforcement operations in order to eradicate violent and drug related crimes from the municipality of Ponce and surrounding areas.
The indictment alleges that this criminal organization engaged in the distribution of heroin, cocaine, cocaine base (also known as “crack” cocaine), and marihuana at La Ferrán Ward, Nueva Atenas and Méndez Vigo streets, Arístides Chavier Public Housing Project, and Ponce Public Housing Project located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain and profit.
The manner and means by which the co-defendants accomplished the objects of the conspiracy included among others the following: the purchasing of multi-kilogram quantities of heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, and marihuana at wholesale prices for subsequent sale at La Ferrán Ward, Nueva Atenas and Méndez Vigo streets, Arístides Chavier Public Housing Project, and Ponce Public Housing Project located in Ponce, Puerto Rico; the cooking of part of the cocaine purchased in order to create cocaine base, which was also packaged in small packages for subsequent sale at the above mentioned wards, streets, and public housing projects in Ponce, Puerto Rico; the use of residences and other locations to store, prepare, and package the heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, and marihuana; the further use of residences and other locations to conceal the drug trafficking proceeds in cash and firearms; the purchasing and possession of firearms to protect themselves and their control over the above mentioned drug points from others competing drug trafficking organizations; the killing of members of other competing drug trafficking organizations to maintain and further their control over drug points; the purchasing and possession of radios and scanners to conduct surveillance of law enforcement personnel and/or to intercept their communications; and, the purchasing of real estate properties to be recorded under third-party names in order to conceal the ownership and origin of the same from law enforcement.
Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00). Penalties for the money laundering offense alleged in the indictment range from a fine of not more than five-hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00), or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) years, or both.
This case was investigated by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Police of Puerto Rico with the support of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the US Marshals Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sonia Torres, Chief, Criminal Division, and Desirée Laborde-Sanfiorenzo, Deputy Chief, Narcotics Section.
In reference to the new Ponce Violent Crime Initiative, United States Attorney H.S. García stated: “ This is a joint effort aiming at reducing and eliminating violent crimes in the Ponce area. The US Attorney’s Office will take appropriate measures to protect law abiding citizens and their families from violent criminals in the island. As part of this strategy, our office is reducing, temporarily, the prosecution guidelines in order to investigate and prosecute those crimes of violence that otherwise would have not been prosecuted in the federal jurisdiction.”
The Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative will investigate and prosecute the following violent crimes: drug trafficking, carjacking, illegal use of firearms, and robberies. This initiative will place emphasis in felons previously convicted for the aforementioned crimes. The following federal and state law enforcement agencies participate in the Ponce Violent Crimes Initiative: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Police of Puerto Rico, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.