41 members of a violent gang charged with drug trafficking and firearms violations in San Juan, Puerto Rico | USAO-PR
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On May 17, 2022, a federal grand jury for the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging 41 violent gang members from the municipality of San Juan with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession and distribution of controlled goods. substances and firearms violations, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Rico Police Bureau (PRPB), the San Juan and Carolina Strike Forces were investigating the case, with the collaboration of the United States Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI).
“Last year we arrested Carlos Manuel Cotto-Cruz, alias ‘Wasa’, the leader of this violent organization. We have continued to work tirelessly to end the organization’s violence, and today we dismantled its drug trafficking activities,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. District Attorney for Puerto Rico. “This operation reflects the excellent collaboration between our state and federal law enforcement partners – coordinated by our OECDTF working group program.
“It is important to highlight that during today’s operation we arrested various drug trafficking leaders in Puerto Rico,” said Joseph González, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Field Office of San Juan. “We know that doesn’t mean our job is done, and what I want to make clear is that we won’t stop.”
The indictment alleges that from 2016 to the date of the indictment’s dismissal, the drug trafficking organization distributed heroin, cocaine base (commonly known as “crack”), cocaine, marihuana, oxycodone (Percocet), Alprazolam (Xanax) and buprenorphine. (Suboxone) less than 300 meters from the Vista Hermosa, Villa España and Luis Lloréns public housing projects, and other nearby areas. The object of the conspiracy was to operate a drug trafficking organization to distribute controlled substances in many areas of the municipality of San Juan and to ship narcotics to the continental United States, for substantial financial profit .
During the investigation, the members of the conspiracy received shipments of narcotics on the coasts of Puerto Rico from ships coming from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Members of the organization transported and distributed kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the continental United States.
As part of the plot, the co-conspirators used abandoned apartments in the public housing projects to prepare drugs for distribution at drug distribution points. They would also rent out different properties or locations using home rental apps like AirBnb, in order to use them as hideouts to store amounts of heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, marihuana, US currency, firearms and ammunition to avoid detection by the law. enforcement.
The defendants acted in different roles in order to promote the objectives of their organization, namely: leaders/providers, enforcers, runners, vendors, lookouts and facilitators. Gang members used force, violence and intimidation to maintain control of the areas in which they operated. They held meetings to discuss the operations of the drug trafficking organization and to plan acts of violence against members of their own gang or members of a rival gang. Twenty-six defendants face a charge of possession of firearms in connection with a crime of drug trafficking:
Carlos Manuel Cotto-Cruz, alias “Wasa/Zion/Loco/Alto Rango/Ministro”
Héctor Luis Santiago-Medina, aka “Gordo Casco/El Incorregible”
Luis Daniel García-Hernández, aka “Luisda/Ele-D/El Enano”
Jermaine Calderón-Echevarría, aka “Jey/Jeso/Pupi”
Victor Isaac Del Valle Rivera
José Luis Castro-Vázquez, aka “Manota”
Fabián Nieves-Rosales, aka “Chino”
Karem Lynette Varcarcel-Cruz, aka “La Prieta”
Pedro Alejandro Ocasio-Hernández, aka “Chino”
Giovanni Andrés Reyes-Cruz, aka “Koala/Ken Y/El Animal/Koa”
Luis Manuel Vega-Quiles, aka “Luisma/Sangre”
Gabriel Casanova-Yales, aka “Gaby Luchy”
Fernando Ian Canino-Ortiz, aka “Ian”
Carlos J. Santos-Díaz, aka “Mambiche”
Luis Miguel Muñóz-López, aka “Chino/Chino Grillo”
Luis Alberto Cintron-Collazo, aka “Pacho/El Negro”
Pablo De La Cruz-Arias, aka “Pablo El Diablo”
Pedro Victor Nieves-Hernández, aka “Pedrito”
Mario Alexandre Rivera
Carlos A. Benítez-Rolón, aka “Charlie/Charlie El Negro”
Jesus David Maldonado-Morales, alias “Chu/Chuito”
Juan Francisco Torres-Huertas, aka “Cano/Canito/Jonathan”
Julio Angel Galarza-Rosado
Alex Darnel Rodríguez-Huertas, aka “Darnel”
The other defendants are:
Luis Manuel Ortiz-Romero, aka “Yiyo”
Luis Nike Santiago-Medina
Juan Ruiz-Díaz, aka “Pra Pra”
Rubén Figueroa-Rodríguez, aka “Rubén el Gordo”
Yan Carlos De Jesús-Ortíz alias “Cepi/Cepi El Escudo”
Omar Quiles-Arce aka “Tibu”
Kevin Jomar Maldonado-Rosa
Kristian Damian Martinez-Cruz
Angel Rafael Torres-Reyes, aka “Mickey Wood”
Orlando José Rodríguez-Lara, aka “Trippy”
Kibanielle Ichael Colón-Muñíz, aka “Kiba/Kiva”
Chris Anthony Jimenez-Ortiz
Kenny J. Rodríguez-Rodríguez, aka “Kencho/Kenny Kencho/Ian”
Keyshla Michelle Rodriguez-Acevedo
Kelvin Joel Torres-Flores
Defendants Héctor Luis Santiago-Medina and Keyshla Michelle Rodríguez-Acevedo face one count of conspiracy to launder money. According to court documents, the object of the conspiracy was to conduct financial transactions with the proceeds of drug trafficking to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the proceeds. For example, they used the proceeds from the sale of narcotics to buy vehicles. Sometimes they submitted false financial documents and made false statements to financial institutions to receive loans to purchase automobiles and paid the loans with narcotics. They also registered the vehicles in the names of co-conspirators, but the vehicles were used by others in the organization.
Deputy United States Attorney (AUSA) and Gang Section Chief Alberto López-Rocafort, Deputy Gang Section Chief, AUSA Teresa Zapata-Valladares, AUSAs Corinne Cordero-Romo and Pedro Casablanca, and AUSA Special R. Vance Eaton are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted of the drug charges, defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison. If convicted on both drug and firearms charges, defendants face a minimum sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison. All defendants face an allegation of narcotics forfeiture of $58,151,800.
The lawsuit is part of an Organized Crime Task Force (OECDTF) Strike Force initiative, which provides for the creation of permanent multi-agency teams that work side-by-side in one location. . This collocated model allows agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle top drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations.
An indictment is only an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.