News Release
March 27, 2006

DEA Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) Deployment to Mayaguez Culminates with Twenty-Three (23) Arrests
Over ½ kilogram of crack-cocaine, 5 vehicles and $400,000 seized

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico- H.S. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, JEROME M HARRIS, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Division, PEDRO TOLEDO, Superintendent, Police of Puerto Rico (PRPD), and JOSE LOZADA, the Director of the Commonwealth Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE) announced today the arrests of 23 members of a drug trafficking organization for possession with intent to distribute crack-cocaine as a result of the DEA Caribbean Division’s Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) deployment to Mayaguez, PR.

DEA MET undercover agents purchased over ½ kilogram of crack-cocaine from these individuals. In addition, five (5) vehicles, and $400, 000.00 were seized from 17 bank accounts owned by one of the members of the organization. The organization operated numerous drug distribution points in Cuesta Las Piedras, Sabalos, Jardines de Concordia, Monte Isleno and Del Carmen Public Housing Projects.

On March 22, 2006 a Federal Grand Jury returned seven (23) one count indictments charging the defendants with aiding and abetting each other, and knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine) in violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2, and Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 (a) (1). The defendants are:

Michael ORTIZ-Rivera
Andres IGLESIA-Roman
Betsy SANTIAGO-Almodovar
Gionanny GONZALEZ-Cintron
Manuel VALENTIN-Rivera
Cheiro VARGAS-Justiniano
Pedro OBREGON-Gonzalez
Ferdinand PADILLA-Troche
Awilda RUIZ-Marty
Luis TORO-Luciano
Tito PADILLA-Troche
Roberto TORRES-Martinez
Francisco GONZALEZ-Ramirez
Joel RIVERA-Abreu
Franklyn RIVERA-Gonzalez
Khayan ORTIZ-Rivera
Jason BARBOSA-Bracero
Roberthon BORRERO-Bracero
Maria VAZQUEZ-Troche
Carlos MORALES-Irizarry
Alberto RODRIGUEZ-Morales
Miguel RODRIGUEZ-Morales
Jose IRIZARRY-Rivera

This indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by agents of the DEA Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) since November 0f 2005. The MET program focuses on mid and street level violent drug trafficking organizations. MET is lead by the DEA and includes agents from the PRPD and NIE. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Ernesto López.

Penalties for the narcotics offenses alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines of up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00). The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.