September 27, 2011
Contact: National Media Affairs Office
Phone Number: (202) 307-1000
DEA And USPIS Investigation Leads To Indictment Of 28 Individuals For Conspiracy To Possess With Intent To Distribute Marijuana
SAN JUAN, P.R. - On September 23, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted 28 individuals as a result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement (DEA), and the United States Postal Inspection (USPIS), with the collaboration of the Federal Bureau of (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police (PRPD), announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a three-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana in the districts of Puerto Rico, California, Florida and Mexico, using the United States Postal (USPS).
According to the indictment, the object of the conspiracy was to distribute large amounts of marijuana throughout Puerto Rico for significant financial gain. The defendants had many roles in the organization in order to further the goals of the conspiracy. The leaders and suppliers of the conspiracy were: Tony Godines Lupian; Luis Silverio-Sosa, aka “Piru;” Alfonso Murillo-Ríos, aka “Poncho;” Jesús A. Corchado-Diaz, aka “Chuy;” Osvaldo Rafael Torres-Ayala, aka “Pablo;” Alex J. Ramos-Mediavilla, aka “Gordo;” Christian Soto-Mujica, aka “Chemito;” and Héctor Morales-Sánchez, aka “Patrón.” The leaders and suppliers were based in two locations, California and Puerto Rico. The California suppliers would purchase marijuana, originally from Mexico in bulk so that it could be packaged and sent to Puerto Rico. The suppliers based in Puerto Rico would coordinate the delivery of the boxes containing the marijuana, oversee the delivery of the drug to the various distributors, pay the couriers, and retrieve the proceeds.
It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that the couriers and distributors would package, pick up and deliver the marijuana laden boxes, and ultimately distribute the drug throughout various locations in Puerto Rico. The facilitators were the co-conspirators who would provide financial guidance and assistance on how to launder the controlled substance proceeds and would also purchase airline tickets for the couriers on behalf of the organization.
The defendants would mail the packaged marijuana to Puerto Rico from United States Post Offices in California. They used fictitious names as the addressee on the marijuana laden boxes and on occasions delivered the packages to abandoned properties and properties wherein the residents were away on vacation, or to private post office boxes located within commercial establishments. The co-conspirators used the USPS online service, text messaging and USPS customer service to verify location and security of their marijuana laden boxes while in route from California to Puerto Rico.
The indictment further alleges that defendants possessed and carried firearms in order to further their drug trafficking activities and they discussed the potential killing of individuals they believed to have stolen a marijuana laden box.
“Today, federal authorities dismantled a drug trafficking organization from its root: starting in Mexico, where the marijuana was bought then transported across the Mexico-California border, and subsequently distributed to Puerto Rico,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “We will continue prosecuting all those who are involved in drug trafficking and will not rest until we restore the quality of life to the people of Puerto Rico.”
“This drug trafficking organization brazenly thought they could use the United States Postal Service to traffic marijuana from California to Puerto Rico,” said Javier Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Caribbean Division. “Today DEA, with the collaborative effort of the United States Postal Inspection Service, dismantled this drug trafficking organization by arresting those who supplied the marijuana from Mexico, the organization leaders in California, the money couriers, the distributors and the tiradores who were on the streets of Puerto Rico. We have seized their money, properties, and cars but most significantly, we have broken their pipeline of drug trafficking. Let this be a strong message to those drug traffickers that think they can go unnoticed, DEA is everywhere and we will not stop until they are behind bars.”
“The United States Postal Service will not be used by Drug Trafficking (DTOs) to facilitate the illegal transportation of narcotics and other dangerous substances. United States Postal Inspectors partnered with the DEA to investigate and bring to justice those who misused our nation’s mail system to further their illicit scheme,” said Delany De León, Resident Inspector in Charge, USPIS. “Postal Inspectors are always vigilant and are here to support and protect the United States Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail. By dismantling this DTO, thus disrupting a major supplier of marijuana to Puerto Rico, we are sending a clear message to DTO members that the US Mail will not be misused.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney José Capó-Iriarte, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Division. If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of ten years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $8 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.