WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Twenty-five Florida residents were charged in a 54-count indictment with narcotics trafficking in connection with their participation in a conspiracy to possess and distribute multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine. The charges are part of a national operation and coordinated takedown, known as Project Deliverance. The South Florida investigation, which commenced in August 2009, is known locally as Operation Mexican Minute and was a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, and the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.
The South Florida indictment charges the following defendants:
- Joseli Davila, 36, of Boynton Beach;
- Placido Martinez-Resendiz, 23, of West Palm Beach;
- Edgar Orosco, 24, of Lake Placid;
- Jose Guadalupe Resenitz-Ordona, 31, of Boynton Beach;
- John Doe, 37, of Boynton Beach;
- Cesar Ramos Alvarado, 37, of West Palm Beach;
- Oscar Ramos, 22, of Lake Placid;
- Armando Resendiz, 28, of Lake Placid;
- Cesar Fortanel, 29, of La Belle;
- Salvador Ramos Alvarado, 26, of Delray Beach;
- Ivan Camacho Hernandez, 26, of Lake Worth;
- Vicente Fortanel, 23, of La Belle;
- Angel Zavala Soto, 30,of Palm Beach Gardens;
- J Guadalupe Garcia-Landaverde, 38, of West Palm Beach;
- Ricardo Perez-Figueroa, 37, of West Palm Beach;
- Gerardo Martinez, 23, of Lake Placid;
- Sulema Salcedo Chavez, 21, of Lake Placid;
- Enrique Garcia Redon, 23, of Lehigh Acres;
- Bladimir Lopez, 25, of West Palm Beach;
- Timothy Isaguirre, 30, of West Palm Beach;
- Jorge Herrera Luviano, 30, of Lake Worth;
- Israel Villanueva, 32, of Lakeland;
- Alejandro Becerra, 23, of Lake Placid;
- Victor Olvera, 27, of Lake Placid; and
- Gregory Rivera, 30, of Boynton Beach.
The indictment charges all 25 defendants with conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine from August 2009 through June 2010. The indictment also charges various individual defendants with distribution and possession with intent to distribute both powder cocaine and crack cocaine. In addition, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of property constituting or derived from the proceeds of the defendants' drug trafficking. If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years to life in prison on the conspiracy charge andbetween 20 to 40 years in prison on each count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute.
Sixteen of the 25 defendants were arrested on June 6 and 7, and made their initial appearances in federal court before Magistrate Judge Ann E. Vitunac. Two are in statecustody, and seven defendants remain at large. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Donald D. Middlebrooks.
Operation Mexican Minute is a cooperative federal, state and local law enforcement investigation, approved and funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a national Department of Justice program that supports investigations of significant multi-state and international drug trafficking organizations. This investigation hasresulted locally in the seizure of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, including one seizure of 10 and another seizure of six kilograms of powder cocaine, the seizure of more than $150,000 in cash, four cars, and various firearms. According to information developed during the investigation, this group operated from Broward, Palm Beach, and Highlands Counties in the Southern District of Florida, and Hendry County in the Middle District of Florida.
Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton said, "This investigation represents one of the most powerful attacks the U.S. government has launched against criminal organizations smuggling narcotics, weapons and cash across our borders. The results of Project Deliverance clearly demonstrate the combined strength that federal agencies bring to bear in the battle against cartels."
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, "Simply put, today's announcement would not be possible without the cooperation of federal, state and local law enforcement. By working together, we exponentially multiply our resources and refocus our commitment to fight crime on a local and even a national level. Project Deliverance confirms the success that can be achieved through such cooperation."
"Project Deliverance identified and dismantled a group of Mexican drug traffickers distributing multi-kilograms of cocaine per month. These traffickers were able to create significant transportation routes from Mexico to the residents of Florida," said Drug Enforcement Administration Miami Field Division Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville.
E.J. Picolo, special agent in charge of the Fort Myers Regional Operations Center of the FDLE, stated, "FDLE is pleased to have partnered with Highlands County Sheriff's Office, DEA, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, ICE, and the U.S. Attorney's Office on this important investigation. I am proud of the results, and the cases impact not only in Highlands County, but much of South Florida. We look forward to continuing our combined efforts."
Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton also praised the coordinated effort, saying, "This dedicated team of law enforcement professionals, without regard for rank or jurisdictional boundaries or agency, worked long days and long hours conducting a nearly year-long investigation. Our communities should be proud of the results of this cooperative action. The leadership displayed by the U.S. Attorney's office resulted in tremendous enthusiasm among our agents and deputies, which further ensured these offenders would be apprehended and prosecuted and our citizens safer as a result."
The investigation was conducted by DEA Miami Field Division, ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Miami, FDLE Fort Myers Regional Operations Center, the Palm BeachCounty Sheriff's Office and the Highlands County Sheriff's Office with the assistance of the Delray Police Department, the Boca Raton Police Department, the Hendry County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Marshals Service.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia L. Diaz and Jennifer Millien.