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Contraband
08/22/2012

Drug trafficking organization charged in a RICO indictment

NEW YORK — A Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) indictment was unsealed Tuesday charging individuals with participating in a massive racketeering organization. These charges stem from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

The 40-count RICO indictment charges nine individuals with participating in the "Rodriguez Enterprise," a massive racketeering organization whose members allegedly sold large quantities of marijuana; engaged in murders and other violent acts; transported and laundered millions of dollars; obstructed justice and committed perjury; and engaged in firearms offenses. The RICO indictment was filed in connection with "Operation Green Venom," a coordinated multi-agency investigation that was led by HSI and first announced in October 2010.

"This organization allegedly placed their goal of profiting from the mass distribution of narcotics throughout New York City above all else, most importantly the regard for human life," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "Today's announcement should serve as a reminder that law enforcement collaboration to combat narcotics trafficking and distribution is greater than ever."

"This indictment illustrates the grim nexus between illegal drug sales, money laundering and deadly violence," said Raymond W. Kelly, commissioner of the NYPD. "We remain committed to working with our federal law enforcement partners to continue our efforts to rid the city of these violent criminals."

"As alleged, these nine defendants were part of a sweeping enterprise that has the blood of six people on its hands and that trafficked in tons of marijuana, laundered millions of dollars and obstructed justice," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Southern District of New York. "Thanks to the continued dedication and commitment of our law enforcement partners, we are now able to bring them to justice."

The following allegations are based on the RICO indictment unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court:

Manuel Geovanny Rodriguez-Perez (Manuel Rodriguez) is the leader of the Rodriguez Enterprise. He is charged with five murders and five attempted murders, including the murders of the following victims:

  • Oct. 26, 1997: Francisco Perez, aka Francie;
  • Dec. 13, 1998: Antonio Kasse, aka Toasty;
  • 2000: first and last name unknown, aka Carlos Valentin, aka Campi;
  • May 3, 2004: Wilfredo Molina, aka Willie; and
  • Jan. 16, 2006: Richard Cabrera, aka Bori.

Other charges against Manuel Rodriguez include: trafficking in marijuana from 1992 through 2010; laundering money in New York, Florida and the Dominican Republic; perjury; obstruction of justice; and firearms charges. Manuel Rodriguez has been in federal custody since Oct. 15, 2010.

Orlando Rodriguez – Manuel Rodriguez's younger brother – is also charged with the murder of Carlos Valentin; an attempted murder in 1996; as well as racketeering, marijuana trafficking and money laundering. Orlando Rodriguez was arrested in the Dominican Republic Aug. 16, 2012, and is detained pending his extradition.

Felipe Cantres-Sanjurjo (Felipe Cantres) is charged with the murders of Wilfredo Molina and Richard Cabrera, as well as racketeering, marijuana trafficking and two attempted murders. Felipe Cantres was transferred from local to federal custody in Puerto Rico Aug. 22, 2012.

Miguel Cantres-Sanjurjo (Miguel Cantres), Felipe Cantres' cousin, is charged with the murder of Jose Caba July 14, 2003, and the murder of Wilfredo Molina, as well as racketeering conspiracy, marijuana trafficking and an attempted murder. Miguel Cantres is currently in federal custody in connection with a robbery conviction.

Jose Manuel Espinal is charged in the indictment with racketeering, money laundering conspiracy and two instances of obstruction of justice. Espinal was previously arrested in connection with money laundering charges in December 2011.

Jesus Sanchez is charged with racketeering, marijuana trafficking, money laundering conspiracy and firearms offenses. Sanchez has been in federal custody since Oct. 15, 2010.

Jose A. Rodriguez, the older brother of Manuel Rodriguez and Orlando Rodriguez, is charged with racketeering, marijuana trafficking, money laundering conspiracy and firearms offenses. Jose A. Rodriguez has been in federal custody since Oct. 15, 2010.

Oscar Rodriguez, a cousin of the Rodriguez brothers, is charged with racketeering conspiracy and marijuana trafficking offenses. Oscar Rodriguez was previously arrested in connection with marijuana trafficking charges Oct. 14, 2010.

Theodore Jones is charged with racketeering conspiracy and marijuana trafficking. Jones is currently serving a sentence for an unrelated narcotics conviction.

Defendants Manuel Rodriguez, Jose A. Rodriguez, Oscar Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez were arrested during an October 2010 takedown of more than 50 members of a massive marijuana trafficking ring that transported ton-quantities of marijuana from Florida and California for distribution in the greater New York area from the early 1990s to 2010. In addition to the defendants charged in the racketeering indictment, the defendants arrested during that takedown included Roc-A-Fella Records founder Kareem Burke, who was sentenced to five years in prison June 4, 2012.

The racketeering indictment seeks the forfeiture of $25 million, which is the approximate amount of gross proceeds received by the defendants in connection with their activities; at least nine separate properties in New York and in Florida; and over $500,000 in cash and nearly 40 pieces of jewelry that were previously seized from the defendants.

All nine defendants are currently in custody or are out on bail in connection with a previous arrest.

HSI encourages the public to report any information regarding these crimes. Any information may be provided anonymously to HSI by calling 1-866-DHS-22ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI and the NYPD. He also thanked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Marshals Service; Bergen County (N.J.) Prosecutor's Office; Englewood (N.J.) Police Department; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the City of New York Department of Investigation for their assistance.