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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
October 15, 2002

DEA Dismantles Seven Violent Drug Trafficking Organizations in Ponce, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - H. S. Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, and Jerome M. Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the Caribbean, announced today the conclusion of OPERATION SOS II as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. Initiated in September of 2001, OPERATION SOS II concluded with the federal Grand Jury indictment of seven violent drug trafficking organizations based in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Joining U.S. Attorney Garcia and DEA SAC Harris are the Honorable Annabelle Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice, Miguel Pereira, Puerto Rico Police Superintendent, and Luis G. Zambrana, Director of the Puerto Rico Governor's Office of Drug Control. OPERATION SOS II, and its predecessor, OPERATION SOS I, targeted the most violent drug trafficking organizations identified in the Ponce and southern areas of Puerto Rico. These organizations used firearms and violence to control their drug distribution centers and to wage war between rival drug gangs. These organizations controlled the manufacturing and distribution of cocaine, crack-cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in the Ponce communities of: Calle Atocha, Residencial Los Lirios del Sur, Calle Acueductos, La Ponderosa, Sector Puerto Viejo del Barrio Playa, Callejon de los Conejos en Calle Cotto, y Residencial Ponce de Leon.

"Project Safe Neighborhoods is a priority of the President of the United States. We will no tolerate tolerate gun violence to take over our communities in Puerto Rico" stated U.S. Attorney Garcia. U.S. Attorney Garcia also praised the excellent work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Warren Vazquez and Antonio Bazan, whom have worked intensively in this investigation to bring these drug traffickers to justice. DEA Special Agent in Charge Harris commended the excellent investigation by the DEA Ponce Resident Office. "Once more, the fine investigators of the HIDTA Ponce Office worked diligently in giving the residents of Ponce and surrounding communities a drug and violence free environment for their children through OPERATION SOS II" stated SAC Harris. "In the DEA we will continue our frontal attack against all violent drug trafficking organizations in Puerto Rico. These organizations bring violence to our communities, and poison our youth with their illegal drugs" concluded SAC Harris.

OPERATION SOS II combined the investigative efforts of the DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Ponce Resident Office, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice Ponce District Attorney's Office and the Puerto Rico Police Ponce Homicide Division, under the U.S. Attorney's Project Safe Neighborhoods. A total of 75 violent drug traffickers were indicted for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack-cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in violation of Title 21 U.S. Code, Sections: 841(b)(1)(A), 846 and 853(a)(1). In addition, several members of the organizations were charged with money laundering. The investigation, which tracks the organizations activities as far as 1995, revealed that they collectively distributed over 2,500 kilograms of cocaine, over 60 kilograms of heroin, over 300 kilograms of crack-cocaine, and over 3,800 pounds of marijuana in the Ponce area, during the duration of the conspiracy. Also, a substitute asset indictment seeks the criminal forfeiture of all drug-derived assets acquired by the organizations for a combined amount of $40,000,000.

As part of OPERATION SOS II, more than 400 law enforcement officers from the DEA, U.S. Marshal, FBI, U.S. Customs, INS, BATF, PRPD, NIE, Hacienda, and Correction Administration, with support from the Puerto Rico National Guard, simultaneously executed 87 arrest warrants pursuant to the indictments. A total of 52 were arrested, 24 individuals remain as fugitives and are being sought by the U.S. Marshal's Puerto Rico Fugitive Task Force. The following defendants have been arrested:

1. Gilberto GARCIA-Vega, A.K.A. Gilbert, DOB: 7-16-78, #844 Calle Elias, El Tuque, Ponce, PR, [9]CN: 02-54(PG)

2. Jonathan NEGRON-Torres, A.K.A. Buhito, DOB: 4-22-80, 1659 Calle Sabio, Bda. Salazar, Ponce, PR, [12]CN: 02-387(DRD)

3. Jose QUILES-Marucci, A.K.A. Ito, DOB: 7-11-70, D-10 Calle Sirena, Urb. Lirios del Sur, Ponce, PR, [4]CN: 02-387(DRD)

4. Emma SEGARRA-Suarez, DOB: 5-27-56, 21 Calle Acueducto, Ponce, PR, [8]CN: 02-54(PG)

5. Alberto COTAL-Coppin, A.K.A. Berto, DOB: 6-29-54, 23 Calle Acueducto, Ponce, PR, [4]CN: 02-54(PG) NOTE: "PRESO"

6. Nelmari RODRIGUEZ-Garcia, A.K.A. Nelma, DOB: 3-3-80, Bldg. 15 Apt. 174 Res. Lirios del Sur, Ponce, PR, [13]CN: 02-387(DRD)

7. Luis A. GUZMAN-Nieves, A.K.A. Luisa, DOB: 5-10-75, Calle 3 Tallaboa Encarnacion, Penuelas, PR, [3]CN: 02-54(PG)

8. Luis Ivan TIRU-Malave, A.K.A. Tiru, DOB: 12-5-56, Calle Acueducto, Ponce, PR, [16]CN: 02-54(PG) & [8]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

9. Jose L. VEGA-Lugo, DOB: 10-15-79, E-15 Apt. 98 Res. Pampanos, Ponce, PR, [14]CN: 02-387(DRD)

10. Heriberto VEGA-Montes, DOB: 6-12-67, 21 Callejon San Juan, Ponce, PR, [11]CN: 02-54(PG)
11. Santiago TORRES-Montanez, A.K.A. Cuajo, DOB: 9-14-63, Bldg. 6 Apt. 57 Res. Lirios del Sur, Ponce, PR, [2]CN: 02-387(DRD)

12. Cesar A. PRIETO-Pazo, DOB: 1-9-79, Bldg. 13 Apt. 145, Res. Villas del Caribe, Ponce, PR, [21]CN: 02-54(PG)

13. Ricardo CARO-Pacheco, A.K.A. Ricky, DOB: 3-3-80, 1072 Urb. Buena Vista, Ponce, PR, [5]CN: 02-387(DRD) & [7]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

14. Alexis MALDONADO-Villarini, A.K.A. Picu, DOB: 12-21-72, Cond. San Antonio garden, Ponce, PR, [2]CN: 02-54(PG)

15. Luver PEREZ-Hernandez, DOB: N/A, AA-3 Calle 1 Urb. Punto Oro, Ponce, PR, [3]CN: 02-389(JAF)

16. Vicente GARCIA-Rivera, DOB: 12-7-79, Bldg. G Apt. 179, Res. Tibes, Ponce, PR, [22]CN: 02-54(PG)

17. Francisco J. SANTIAGO-Lizardi, A.K.A. Purin, DOB: N/A, Paso Seco, Santa Isabel, PR, [2]CN: 02-389(JAF)

18. Ramon A. SANCHEZ-Ortiz, A.K.A. Melo Cejas, DOB: 2-7-76, Urb. Flamboyanes, Coamo, PR, [5]CN: 02-54(PG)

19. Roberto LUGO-Vazquez, DOB: N/A, 14 calle Las Flores, Ponce, PR, [5]CN: 02-389(JAF)

20. Fernando MERCADO-Irizarry, A.K.A. Andy, DOB: 11-7-72, Bldg. J Apt. 264, Res. Tibes, Ponce, PR, [10]CN: 02-54(PG)

21. Alexis J. CRESPO-Echevarria, A.K.A. Alex Gatillo, DOB: 8-14-72, 180 Ave. Meros, Sector Los Potes, Barrio Playa, Ponce, PR, [1]CN: 02-387(DRD)

22. Rodney MERCADO-Irizarry, DOB: 8-2-76, S-7 Calle 23 Urb. Jardines del Caribe, Ponce, PR, [12]CN: 02-54(PG)

23. Miguel A. DIAZ-Rivera, A.K.A. Bolo, DOB: N/A, Bldg. N Apt. 187 Ponce de Leon, Ponce, PR, [2]CN: 02-392(JAG)

24. Lydia PEREZ-Vera, DOB: 9-2-58, Bldg. N Apt. 187 Ponce de Leon, Ponce, PR, [13]CN: 02-92(JAG)

25. Carmelo RIVERA-Rivera, A.K.A. Melito, DOB: 1-12-77, 535 Calle Los Cedros, Urb. Canas, Ponce, PR, [5]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL) & [6]CN: 02-54(PG)

26. Ferdinand VERA-Diaz, A.K.A.Fernan, DOB: 5-3-65, Calle Menta, Urb. Baramaya, Ponce, PR, [1]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

27. Madeline CRUZ-Figueroa, DOB: 9-2-58, Bldg. L Apt. 215 Res. Ponce de Leon, Ponce, PR, [12]CN: 02-392(JAG)

28. Tomas RIVERA-Acevedo, DOB: 7-11-76, 7 Calle Acueducto, Ponce, PR, [6]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

29. David ACOSTA-Gautier, DOB: N/A, 25 Calle 3 Barrio Quebrada del Agua, ponce, PR, [3]CN: 02-392(JAG)

30. Luis David HERNANDEZ-Camacho, DOB: 8-30-80, Calle Acueductos, Ponce, PR, [12]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

31. Nelson Americo IRIZARRY-Velazquez, A.K.A. Meco, DOB: 5-17-77, H-6 Calle 5 Urb. Alta Vista, Ponce, PR, [30]CN: 02-54(PG) & [2]CN: 02-390 VJ(SEC)

32. Miguel A. RIVERA-Garcia, A.K.A. Piolo, DOB: 3-25-67, 2077 Calle Wilson, Ponce, PR, [3]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

33. Javier I. NATAL-Torres, DOB: 11-16-70, 3107 Portales del Monte, Ponce, PR, [1]CN: 02-390 VJ(SEC)

34. Virginia GARCIA-Rivera, DOB: 4-1-37, 60 Callejon Las Flores, Ponce, PR, [8]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

35. Domingo LUGO-Irizarry, A.K.A. Minguito, DOB: 8-25-71, 5323 Calle 3 Urb. La Matilde, Ponce, PR, [9]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

36. Carlos VIRIOLA-Rodriguez, A.K.A. Kiko Viriola, DOB: 9-1-75, Calle A urb. Star Light, Ponce, PR, [6]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

37. Ricardo REYES-Perez, A.K.A. Richi Cocodrilo, DOB: 6-9-76, WW-30 Calle 23 Villa del Carmen, Ponce, PR, [4]CN: 02-391(JAG)

38. Hector L. TORRES-Velez, A.K.A. Pito, DOB: N/A, 21 Calle Acueducto, Ponce, PR, [27]CN: 02-54(PG)

39. Jose LIND-Rivera, A.K.A. Lin, 26 Calle Pescadilla, Barrio Playa, Ponce, PR. [8]CN: 02-387(DRD)

40. Justo L. GONZALEZ-Perez, NFI, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [4]CN: 02-389(JAF)

41. Leonides MARTINEZ-Medina, A.K.A. Aleman, NFI, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [25]CN: 02-54(PG)

42. Angel Antonio QUIRINDONGO-Matinez, DOB: 6-23-78, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [18]CN: 02-54(PG)

43. Johnie IRIZARRY-Echevarria, A.K.A. Jani Aleja, DOB: 5-26-77, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [6]CN: 02-387(DRD)

44. Jose M. HERNANDEZ-Hernandez, A.K.A. Bosco, NFI, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [23]CN: 02-54(PG) & [10]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

45. Omar QUIRINDONGO-Martinez, A.K.A. Tribol, DOB: 12-5-79, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [19]CN: 02-54(PG)

46. Johnnatan CUBILLE-Quinones, A.K.A. Cubille, NFI, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [10]CN: 02-392(JAG)

47. Jorge SANTIAGO-Bula, A.K.A. Pito Bula, DOB: 6-5-72, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [20]CN: 02-54(PG)

48. William TORRES-Diaz, A.K.A. Willy, DOB: 2-20-74, incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [26]CN: 02-54(PG)

49. Bryan RAMOS-Batista, DOB: 5/1/79, Incarcerated at Las Cucharas State Penitentiary, Ponce, PR, [24]CN: 02-54(PG)

50. Richard RIVERA-Garcia, A.K.A. Richard Conejo, DOB: 8-13-75, Incarcerated at the Federal Metropolitan Detention Center, Guaynabo, PR, [3]CN: 02-390 VJ(SEC)

51. Miguel GOMEZ-Benabe, A.K.A. Micky, DOB: 1-29-71, Incarcerated at the Federal Metropolitan Detention Center, Guaynabo, PR, [5]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

52. Jose IRIZARRY-Cintron - NFI

The following individuals remain fugitives:

1. William SANTIAGO-Batiz, A.K.A. Kilo, DOB: 6-1-72, 19 Calle Acueducto, Ponce, PR, [15]CN: 02-54(PG)

2. Ramon A. VEGA-Martinez, A.K.A. Tony, DOB: N/A, 3359 Calle Rio Llano, Urb. Constancia, Ponce, PR, [7]CN: 02-392(JAG)

3. Adam L. NIVES-Melendez, A.K.A. Adam, DOB: 6-9-80, 77 Calle Leon, Bda. Borinquen, Ponce, PR, [2]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

4. Raymond MENENDEZ-Echevarria, A.K.A. Memo Ponce, Res. Lirios del Sur, Ponce, PR, [7]CN: 02-387(DRD)

5. Ivone MARTINEZ-Vigo, A.K.A. Yaya, DOB: 5-1-73, 95 Calle Leon, Ponce, PR, [17]CN: 02-54(PG)

6. Javier SEGUI-Collazo, A.K.A. Papo, DOB: 4-5-69, Bldg. D Apt. 148 Res. Claveles, Ponce, PR, [10]CN: 02-387(DRD)

7. Hector L. GALARZA-Negron, A.K.A. Tolito, DOB: N/A, 9 Intendente Ramirez, Ponce, PR, [4]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

8. Juan A. RAMOS-Rivera, A.K.A. Papo Tecnica, papo Technical, DOB: N/A, Lewisburg Fedetral Prison, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, [29]CN: 02-02-54(PG)

9. Carmelo RIVERA-Torres, DOB: 4-3-48, 535 Calle Los Cedros, Urb. Canas, Ponce, PR, [7]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

10. Axel CARABALLO-Ortiz, DOB: 5-25-79, 54 Baldorioty, Poce, PR, [11]CN: 02-392(JAG)

11. Manuel MURIEL-Vega, A.K.A. Negron, Fino, DOB: 1-6-70, 111 Calle Lorenza Bizo, Ponce, PR, [9]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

12. Julio GOZALEZ-Diaz, A.K.A. Julito, BQ-53 Santa Teresita, Ponce, PR, [13]CN: 02-54(PG) & [3]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL)

13. Eduardo A. RUIZ-Vega, A.K.A. Choby, DOB: 6-2-75, Bldg. D Apt. 167 Res. Ponce de Leon, Ponce, PR, [5]CN: 02-392(JAG)

14. Jose Gabriel VEGA-Santiago, A.K.A. Gaby, DOB: 7-15-78, Bldg. G Apt. 196, Res. Ponce de Leon, Ponce, PR, [8]CN: 02-392(JAG)

15. Jose RIVERA-Garcia, A.K.A. Gigi, DOB: 1-12-64, Callejon de Rio, Sector Las Martinez, Ponce, PR, [4]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

16. Nelson RIVERA-Garcia, A.K.A. Nelson Conejo, DOB: 1-19-71, 60 Callejon las Flores, Ponce, PR, [2]CN: 02-391 VJ(PG)

17. Ramon VEGA-Ortiz, A.K.A. Moncho, DOB: N/A, 1969 Calle Guayacan, Urb. Los Caobos, Ponce, PR [6]CN: 02-392(JAG)

18. David SANCHEZ-Badillo, A.K.A. Tempo, DOB: 9-25-77, Cond. Sky Tower I Apt. 4-E, San Juan, PR, [4]CN: 02-387(DRD)

19. Francisco Tomas MURIEL-Castillo, A.K.A. Buda, NFI, [3]CN: 02-387(DRD)

20. Sigilfredo RIVERA-Rubero A.K.A. Fredo, DOB: N/A, 15 Robin Road, Williamantic, Connecticut, [11]CN: 02-388 VJ(HL), [1]CN: 02-389(JAF) & [10]CN: 02-391(PG)

21. Juan QUIRINDONGO-Ayala, A.K.A. Ñeco, DOB: 9-27-73, G-6 Calle 7 Alturas de Peñuelas II, Peñuelas, PR, [1]CN: 02-392(JAG)

22. Daniel RIVERA-Morales, NFI, [9]CN: 02-392(JAF)

23. Reynaldo RIVERA-Rosario, A.K.A. Pachy, Fled to the CONUS, [11]CN: 02-387(DRD)

24. Melvin MALDONADO-Bula, NFI, [14]CN: 02-54(PG)

These individuals remain fugitives and are being sough by the U.S. Marshals Service, District of Puerto Rico Fugitive Task Force. The U.S. Marshals Service requests that information which leads to the arrest of any of the above fugitives or any other individual wanted by the U.S. Marshal be provided to the Puerto Rico Fugitive Task Force at 787-766-6000 or toll-free at 800-336-0102.

For additional information, please contact Special Agent Waldo P. Santiago, News Media Representative, at 800-718-0781.


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