July 31, 2018
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-2906
Two members of drug Trafficking ring plead guilty
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Leitscha Poncedeleon, 28, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine, before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci. The charge carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $10,000,000 fine. In addition, co-defendant Orlando Yelder, 36, also of Rochester, pleaded guilty possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Those charges carry a minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Violent Crime Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict, New York Field Division; the Rochester Police Department, Special Investigations, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli; the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Patrick Phelan; the Brighton Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Henderson; and U.S. Border Patrol, under the direction of Patrol Agent-in-Charge Gregory Johnson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn M. Hartford, who is handling the case, stated that between April 2017 and January 29, 2018, the defendants conspired with Carlos Javier Figueroa, Roberto Figueroa, Felix Figueroa, Obed Torres, Jonathan Cruz Carmona, Freddie Silva, and others, to distribute cocaine.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, on numerous occasions Poncedeleon communicated via telephone with Freddie Silva and other individuals in Puerto Rico to coordinate the shipment of cocaine from Puerto Rico to Rochester, via the United States Postal Service. Between September 9, 2017, and January 29, 2018, Poncedeleon and other conspirators coordinated at least 25 shipments of cocaine, each containing approximately two kilograms of cocaine. Poncedeleon and others sent money via the United States Postal Service and wire transfers from Rochester to Puerto Rico as payment for the cocaine. Poncedeleon also arranged for individuals in the Rochester area to receive the packages of
cocaine. Once the packages arrived in Rochester, the individuals would contact Poncedeleon who would then notify co-conspirator Carlos Javier Figueroa.
Poncedeleon, Carlos Javier Figueroa, Roberto Figueroa, and others, maintained a residence located at 292 Barrington Street in Rochester for the purposes of storing, manufacturing, processing, and distributing cocaine. At that location, Poncedeleon, Carlos Javier Figueroa, Roberto Figueroa, and others regularly prepared and packaged cocaine for distribution. On January 29, 2018, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the residence and recovered approximately three kilograms of cocaine, $230,060 in cash, eight firearms, and numerous rounds of ammunition.
Sentencing for Poncedeleon is scheduled for November 8, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. before Judge Geraci. Sentencing for Yelder is scheduled for October 19, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., also before Judge Geraci.