News Release
May 6, 2008

Eight Members of a Violent Policy-Impersonation Robbery Crew Indicted
Defendants Net More Than 750 Kilograms of Cocaine and $4 Million in Drug Proceeds in Over 100 Robberies

MAY 6 -- (Brooklyn, NY) An indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn charging eight leaders, members, and associates of a violent robbery crew for their participation in more than one hundred armed robberies of narcotics traffickers along the east coast of the United States that netted more than 750 kilograms of cocaine and $4 million in drug proceeds. During their crime spree, which began in May 2003, the crew members posed as police officers in order to subdue narcotics traffickers and their families, and then kidnapped, tortured, and robbed their victims.1 The defendants arrested in New York will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack at the U. S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.

The indictment and arrests were announced by John P. Gilbride, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York, Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Robert T. Johnson, District Attorney, Bronx County, New York, Harry J. Corbitt, Superintendent, New York State Police and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

According to the indictment and the government’s detention memorandum, the investigation began in 2006 and revealed that the Queens-based robbery crew used cars equipped with lights and sirens to impersonate police officers and apprehend their victims. The victims were then taken to remote locations where they were threatened with death, beaten, and tortured until they disclosed the location of drugs and cash. Crew members then allegedly stole the drug proceeds and narcotics, primarily cocaine, and re-sold the drugs in the New York City metropolitan area. The robberies were carried out in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida. During the course of its operation, the crew injured more than one hundred victims and stole cocaine with an estimated street value of over $20 million and approximately $4 million in cash. As part of its investigation, law enforcement seized several kilograms of cocaine, more than 20 operable firearms, handcuffs, scanners, and vehicles equipped with lights and sirens.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Gilbride stated, “This crew left a trail of destruction behind them as they conducted their day to day drug trafficking operation along the East Coast. By using threats and violence, this organization reaped millions of dollars of profit on the selling of illegal narcotics. With a coordinated and focused plan, law enforcement caught up with this crew and they now will be facing justice.”

“This violent crew of robbers and drug dealers was breathtaking in the scope of its crimes and in the danger it posed to our communities,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “Through the close cooperation of federal, state, and local law enforcement across the country, the crew’s reign of terror has been put to an end. The defendants will now be held to account for their crimes.” Mr. Campbell thanked the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force REDRUM Group which is comprised of officers and Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the New York State Police and the New York Police Department, as well as the assistance from the Durham, North Carolina Police, DEA Special Operations Division, Major Crimes Unit, The Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, New York and the Philadelphia Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mary Barr and Andrea Goldbarg, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy Shockett from the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office.

The Defendants:
FRANKLIN ACOSTA DE VARGAS, also known as “Luis Hernandez”
Age: 36
Age: 30
JOSE CASTRO, also known as “Chupa”
Age: 33
RODOLFO GARCIA, also known as “Martillo”
Age: 46
RUDY MARTINEZ, also known as “Bacalao”
Age: 38
GABRIEL PABON, also known as “Jose”
Age: 41
JAVIER RIVERA, also known as “Bobolo”
Age: 34
ASNEL TORRES, also known as “Leonel”
Age: 26

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