Two Leaders of Violent Puerto Rico Drug Cartel Convicted at Trial
Committed Dozens of Murders and Bribed Police Officers
NEW YORK CITY - Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the conviction of Julio Marquez-Alejandro, a/k/a “Chino,” and Luis Blondet for racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, murder while engaged in a drug crime, and murder through the use of a firearm. After less than a day of deliberations, the unanimous jury convicted Marquez-Alejandro and Blondet yesterday of every count presented to the jury after a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Yesterday’s verdict brings justice for the more than a dozen victims of the defendants’ years-long campaign of brutal violence. Using murder after murder and bribery of corrupt Puerto Rico police officers, the defendants profited from distributing tons of cocaine throughout Puerto Rico and other places in the United States, including drugs sold out of a children’s daycare center in the Bronx. Thanks to the tremendous work of our law enforcement partners and the career prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the defendants’ reign of terror has ended.”
According to the Indictment and the evidence at trial:
Marquez-Alejandro was one of the founding fathers of La Organization de Narcotraficantes Unidos, or La ONU, a criminal enterprise whose members and associates engaged in, from in or about 2004 to in or about 2016, dozens of murders, the bribery of corrupt police officers in Puerto Rico, and the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine, including the shipment of cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York. Cocaine supplied by La ONU was distributed in New York City, including out of a children’s daycare center in the Bronx. Blondet was a member of La ONU and one of Marquez-Alejandro’s closest allies.
On or about April 9, 2005, Blondet murdered Crystal Martinez-Ramirez. After Martinez-Ramirez refused Blondet’s advances, Blondet shot Martinez-Ramirez in the head twice and dumped her body on a street corner in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
On or about December 28, 2006, Israel Crespo-Cotto was murdered on the orders of Marquez-Alejandro because Crespo-Cotto was believed to be cooperating with law enforcement. Marquez-Alejandro’s assassins killed Crespo-Cotto, a double amputee, while he was sitting in his wheelchair in the Manuel A. Perez public housing projects in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Crespo-Cotto was shot 24 times.
On or about March 20, 2009, Carlos Barbosa was murdered on the orders of Marquez-Alejandro because Barbosa was believed to be plotting to seize power from Marquez-Alejandro. Barbosa was shot over a dozen times while getting his hair cut at a barbershop in Levittown, Puerto Rico.
In addition, evidence was presented at trial of Marquez-Alejandro and Blondet ordering, committing, or otherwise participating in more than a dozen other murders, some of which include:
On or about May 9, 2007, members of La ONU, including Marquez-Alejandro, hired corrupt Puerto Rico police officers to participate in the murder of Anthony Castro-Carrillo in Carolina, Puerto Rico, in exchange for a cash bonus. Members of La ONU and two corrupt cops stormed Castro-Carrillo’s residence while dressed as police officers and shot and killed him.
Marquez-Alejandro, Blondet, and other members of La ONU arranged for the murder of Hommysan Cariño-Bruno, a leader of a rival drug organization, paying a driver to kill Cariño-Bruno and providing a firearm. Cariño-Bruno was shot and killed while inside a van on or about April 29, 2008, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
On or about November 27, 2009, Emanuel Correa Romero, a/k/a “Oreo,” was murdered on the orders of Marquez-Alejandro. Members of La ONU beat Correa Romero until he appeared dead. After the assault, members of La ONU placed Correa Romero’s body into a suitcase, and later reported back that they shot the suitcase dozens of times and then lit it on fire.
Marquez-Alejandro, 52, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Blondet, 47, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, were returned to the custody of the U.S. Marshals following the return of the verdict. Marquez-Alejandro and Blondet were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum of life in prison. With respect to the murder of Crystal Martinez-Ramirez, Blondet was convicted of murder in aid of racketeering, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, and murder through the use of a firearm, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of life in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed. With respect to the murders of Israel-Crespo-Cotto and Carlos Barbosa, Marquez-Alejandro was convicted of two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, each of which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison; two counts of murder while engaged in a drug crime, each of which carries a mandatory minimum of twenty years in prison and a maximum of life in prison; and two counts of murder through the use of a firearm, each of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and maximum sentence of life in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamie E. Bagliebter, Peter J. Davis, Jacob R. Fiddelman, and Justin V. Rodriguez are in charge of the prosecution and represented the Government at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jordan Estes, Andrew Thomas, Lara Pomerantz, Allison Nichols, and Dina McLeod also participated in the investigation and prosecution of the case.