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Financial Crimes
09/26/2013

HSI arrests 43 on bank fraud, identity theft, drug trafficking charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Forty-three individuals were arrested Tuesday for bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and drug trafficking. The investigation that led to the arrests was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.

"The arrest of individuals should send a clear message to the community that they should be alert to fraudulent phone schemes geared to defraud you as an individual or your business," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI will continue working with our local and federal partners to uncover these types of fraudulent schemes, identify the perpetrators and prosecute them."

According to the indictment, Efrain Medina-Rivera, aka Papo Truco, is the leader of a criminal organization, which he operated from the Bayamon 501 correctional facility, who devised numerous schemes to fraudulently obtain funds from innocent account holders in various financial institutions. The stolen funds were then used to finance his criminal organization's drug smuggling activities. The indictment alleges that Medina-Rivera would use cellular phones to call his victims from the state prison to obtain their financial information, which he would then use to transfer victims' funds into accounts of facilitators. The monies would then be withdrawn from the facilitators' accounts by members of the organization outside of the prison facility and would be used to pay off debts as instructed by Medina Rivera.

The following individuals were arrested:

  • Efrain Medina-Rivera
  • Tirson Pizarro-Plaza
  • Israel García-Sanchez
  • Mario Torres-Pantojas
  • Jose Hernaiz-Casado
  • Judith Hernandez-Nater
  • Jose Gonzalez-Diaz
  • Reynaldo Rivera-Morales
  • Christian Piña-Ortiz
  • Angel Sanchez-Negron
  • Marisol Rivera-Berrios
  • Ricardo Rivera-Alicea
  • Josue Piña-Ortiz
  • Reynaldo Pons-Cruz
  • Zasha Gonzalez-Gonzalez
  • Manuel Seijo-Negron
  • Jackeline Rosario-Rosario
  • María Torres-Pantojas
  • Victor Cordoba-Martinez
  • Jayson Sierra-Vazquez
  • Pedro Benitez-Lanza
  • Jairo Martinez-Padin
  • Jorge Lopez-Vazquez
  • Elias Rodriguez-Rivera
  • Miguel Fontanez-Cosme
  • Hector Morales-Cabrera
  • Abimael Bello-Burgos
  • Gladys Ortega-Negrón
  • Christian Miranda-Rivera
  • Hector Serpa-Ruiz
  • Michael Sostre-Luciano
  • Xiomara Mercado-López
  • Jose Antonio Rivera-Maldonado
  • Javier Santiago-Vazquez
  • Yamil Fuentes-Merced
  • Swindy Colon-Colon
  • Lourdes Rios-Torres
  • Melissa Vega-Colon
  • Jayson Carrasquillo-Alejandro
  • Luz Gonzalez-Cintron
  • Tanya Martinez-Roman
  • Carmen Santiago-Burgos
  • Luz Lebron-De Jesus

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud charges; a minimum of 10 years for the drug trafficking charges, and a minimum of two years for the identity theft and aggravated identity theft.