30 Members of a Drug Trafficking Organization Indicted as a Result of San Juan Strike Force OCDETF Investigation
SEP 27 -- SAN JUAN, P.R. - Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico; Luis Fraticelli, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), San Juan Division, Jerome Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Division, Marcial O. Felix, Resident Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Pedro Toledo, Superintendent, Police of Puerto Rico (PRPD) and Luis Rios, Director, Puerto Rico Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE); today jointly announced the arrest of 27 members of a drug trafficking organization operating at the “Barriada San Miguel”, an area also known as “El Cerro” in Naranjito, PR. Yesterday, September 26, 2007, a federal grand jury issued a 28 count indictment, accusing the 30 defendants of federal drug trafficking offenses, a firearms violation, and a forfeiture allegation. This organization was trafficking in cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. The investigation was conducted under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement (OCDETF) program.
The leaders of the drug trafficking organization were co-defendantsManuel Chevres-Motta, aka “Tito Pastor”, “Penco”, “Gavilan”; Luis Rosado-Pérez, aka “Omy”, “Gavilan”, andManuel Morales-Calderón, aka “Manolo”, “Cabeza”, “Cabezón”.
One of the defendants, Emmanuel Rivera-Maldonado, aka “Manny” was a former municipal police officer who, as a member of the Naranjito Municipal Police, used his access to the law enforcement information systems to run the license plates of the vehicles that the organization believed were used by the police, in an effort to uncover their status as law enforcement officers.
The rest of the members of this group had different roles within the organization. There were “cooks” in charge of processing the cocaine powder into crack cocaine, “sellers” which were assigned to conduct the transactions at the drug points, “runners” responsible for delivering the drugs to the sellers, “escorts” that would provide safe passage, on foot, from the town square to the protected drug points to potential buyers, and “supervisors” who would oversee the whole operation.
Count one of the Indictment alleges that from in or about November 2005, and until the date of the return of the Indictment, all thirty (30) defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine; 50 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack”); and measurable amounts of heroin and marihuana, all in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. The penalties for the offense alleged in count one of the indictment is a minimum term of ten (10) years and up to life in prison, followed by a term of supervised released of up to five (5) years, and fines of up to four million dollars ($4,000,000).
Counts two (2) through twenty-six (26) of the Indictment charge different defendants with separate counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute and Aiding and Abetting in the Distribution of Controlled Substances in connection with some of the multiple drug transactions committed by members of the organization. All in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. The penalties for each of the offenses alleged in counts two (2) through twenty-six (26) of the indictment is a term of up to twenty (20) years in prison, followed by a term of supervised released of up to three (3) years, and fines of up to one million dollars ($1,000,000).
Count 27 is against defendant Marcos Rivera-Pérez aka “Gorila,” and for selling a firearm, an AK-47 machine gun, without a license, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922 (a)(1(a).
Count 28 is a drug forfeiture allegation. Each defendant who is convicted of one or more of the offenses shall forfeit to the United States at least three (3) million dollars as proceeds of the organization’s drug trafficking activities during the approximately two years the operation lasted, until today. Also, upon conviction, defendant Manuel Chevres-Motta shall forfeit his farm of 2.8739 acres, located in the municipality of Corozal.
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 and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The San Juan Strike Force is a U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico, initiative which targets mid level violent criminal organizations operating in the San Juan, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Area for federal prosecution, with the combined investigative resources of the FBI, DEA, ATF, PRPD and NIE. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Timothy Henwood; AUSA Carlos R. Cardona; AUSA Jeannette Mercado-Rios, Chief of the Narcotics Unit in collaboration with Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Guillermo Gil-Bonar. AUSA Mike Fernandez, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit and AUSA Maritza González from the Asset Forfeiture Unit assisted with the investigation.