October 19, 2017
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Ten Members Of Bronx Drug Trafficking Organization Charged With Distributing Thousands Of Pounds Of Marijuana Worth Over $22 Million
NEW YORK - James J. Hunt, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement (DEA); Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; James D. Robnett, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal (IRS-CI); James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police (NYPD); New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II; and Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security (HSI) announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging Hallil Tabar, Asmin Hernandez, John Munoz-Garcia, Jairo Cienfuegos, William Baez, Henry Rodriguez, Danny Hannah, Jr., Kevin Umejei, and Starly Hernandez with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, and a Complaint charging Lorne Victoria with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and use of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Nine of the defendants were arrested yesterday and presented before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan federal court, and Starly Hernandez was arrested this morning and will be presented before Judge Netburn later today.
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt said: “Yesterday’s arrests were part of ‘Operation Green Giant’, a Strike Force investigation targeting an organization allegedly reaping millions off the sale of marijuana in New York City. The alleged operation traversed the country with $22 million worth of marijuana sent to our city and the profit laundered back to California. I commend the good work of the Strike Force, Southern District of New York and our law enforcement partners on these arrests and dismantlement.”
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, these defendants conspired to ship millions of dollars’ worth of drugs across the country for eventual sale in New York City. Searches of apartments where the defendants allegedly resided uncovered guns and ammunition, multiple kilograms of cocaine, hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and thousands of dollars in cash. Drug trafficking organizations endanger public safety, and today’s multi-agency effort has successfully halted another such alleged organization.”
As alleged in the Indictment and Complaint unsealed yesterday and today in Manhattan federal court1:
The defendants are members of a Bronx-based large-scale drug trafficking (the “DTO”) that shipped hundreds of boxes containing thousands of pounds of marijuana from California to various locations in New York. Between at least March 2016 and the present, the DTO trafficked in over 6,600 pounds of marijuana worth approximately $22 million, which was sent to residences and businesses in Manhattan, the Bronx, and New Rochelle. After the drugs were shipped to New York, the defendants transferred multiple boxes of marijuana per week to several stash houses from which the DTO members further distributed the drugs to customers and dealers.
In connection with yesterday’s arrests, law enforcement agents executed search warrants at 12 locations in the Bronx, including apartments occupied by several of the defendants. During the execution of those search warrants, agents recovered, among other items, three handguns, one sawed-off shotgun, ammunition, multiple kilograms of cocaine, hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and thousands of dollars in cash. DEA agents previously seized over $230,000 in cash from TABAR on October 14, 2017, at San Francisco International Airport.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the NYPD, HSI, the New York State Police, IRS-CI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and (ATF), U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department, and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative and part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task (OCDTEF) program.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Catherine Geddes and Nicholas Folly are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment and Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.