SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The leader of the largest drug trafficking organization in the Caribbean pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in district court Tuesday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jose Figueroa Agosto, aka Junior Capsula, pleaded guilty before U.S. Judge Juan Manuel Perez Gimenez, who set his sentencing for August 2012.
On Nov. 13, 2011, HSI special agents arrested Agosto after he was charged on a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and money laundering. The indictment also sought to forfeit the proceeds obtained as a result of such offenses, up to an amount of $100 million.
According to the indictment, from 2005, the defendants conspired to import multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine into Puerto Rico from places outside of the United States, mainly the Dominican Republic, all for significant financial gain and profit. Co-conspirators assumed various roles within the drug trafficking organization in order to further the object of the conspiracy, including but not limited to leaders, transporters and facilitators.
The leaders of this organization included Agosto; José Miguel Marrero Martell, aka Pito Nariz; Jorge Luis Figueroa Agosto; and Eddy Brito.
It is alleged that the co-conspirators would smuggle hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic in private vessels. The narcotics would be distributed in Puerto Rico and the continental United States, and part of the drug proceeds would also be smuggled from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic in bulk cash quantities.
The indictment further alleges that members of the organization were responsible for the transportation of narcotics into Puerto Rico onboard private motor vessels. Many of the transporters purchased luxury motor vessels in order to move the narcotics into Puerto Rico. The following co-conspirators acted as transporters in this organization: Diego Pérez Colón, Sixto Boschetti Dávila, Kareem Boschetti Dávila, Elier Martínez Delgado, Rafael Molina Padró, Ivan Crespo Talavera, Raúl González Díaz, Carlos Torres Landrúa, Hector Ramos Rosado, Jonathan Vega Berrios and Joel Vega Berrios. Gerardo Amaro Rodríguez acted as a facilitator assisting with the placement, layering and integration of the organization's narcotics proceeds within legitimate economic and financial systems.
The defendants would attempt to create the appearance that their narcotics proceeds were legitimate by purchasing assets through the use of "straw owners" or "jockeys." The defendants and their co-conspirators would purchase assets, use nominee bank accounts to deposit narcotics proceeds, and make payments for services with cash and money orders. This was done in order to conceal the true ownership of the assets, conceal the source of the funds, and avoid tracing by financial institutions, and civil and criminal authorities, thereby protecting their interest in the properties.
Agosto was charged under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute. The charges set forth in count three of the indictment indicate that from 1994, continuing up to and until July 17, 2010, in the District of Puerto Rico, New York, Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and on the high seas, Agosto occupied a position of organizer, supervisor and manager in a criminal enterprise, which involved the possession with intent to distribute and the importation of cocaine, and from which continuing series of violations, he obtained substantial income and resources.
On July 17, 2010, Agosto was arrested in Puerto Rico after being a fugitive since November, 1999, when he used false documents to escape from a Puerto Rico correctional facility. He was subsequently charged with fraudulently obtaining a passport to travel to the Dominican Republic. As charged in the indictment, he continued his criminal enterprise of drug trafficking. At the time of his arrest, convicted felon Agosto was also found in possession of a firearm for which charges are included in the indictment.
Agosto was also indicted in a second superseding indictment for conspiracy to import more than 2,100 kilograms of cocaine into Puerto Rico between the years 2000 and 2001.
The indictment also includes money laundering allegations from or around September 2005 to December 2007. It was part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that the defendants would acquire vessels with illegal proceeds for use in drug and currency smuggling ventures between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. They would also transfer ownership or loan the vessels amongst themselves in furtherance of the drug trafficking activities.