42 gang members charged with drug trafficking and firearms violations in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — On Sept. 20, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging 42 gang members from the municipality of Manati with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession and distribution of controlled substances and firearms violations. U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico W. Stephen Muldrow announced the indictment.
The indictment alleges that from 2016, the drug trafficking organization called Hasta los Marcian distributed heroin, fentanyl, cocaine base (commonly known as crack), cocaine, marijuana, Tramadol and Clonazepam within 1,000 feet of the Enrique Zorrilla, Villa Evangelina, Vivamery, and Los Murales Public Housing Projects, the Cerro Gandía Ward and the Morovis Cemetery — all for significant financial gain and profit.
Hasta los Marcian's goal was to maintain control of all drug trafficking activities within the Manati area by using force, threats, violence and intimidation. In preserving power and protecting territory, Hasta los Marcian members profited from the illegal distribution of narcotics, including transportation and distribution of kilogram quantities of cocaine into the continental United States.
The investigation revealed that during the conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators participated in murders and shootings to further their drug trafficking operations. The defendants and their co-conspirators sometimes used bulletproof vests to protect themselves when they participated in acts of violence. They modified firearms to convert them to automatic weapons. On some occasions, the co-conspirators legally purchased firearms and then sold them to members of the drug trafficking organization. Also, defendants and their co-conspirators mailed pieces of firearms or entire firearms from the continental United States to other members of the drug trafficking organization in Manati.
The defendants acted in different roles to further the goals of the drug trafficking conspiracy, including as leaders, suppliers, drug point owners, enforcers, runners, sellers, lookouts and facilitators. The gang members used force, violence and intimidation to control the areas in which they operated.
The following defendants are charged in the indictment:
- Fabian Lopez-Pino aka Fabi, aka Gordo, aka Panda
- Michael Angelo Reyes-Vazquez aka Chucky, aka Choky
- Joshua Siragusa-Romero aka Tres Dobles
- Alejandro Saenz-Escobar aka Fresa, aka Fresita, aka Andito
- Christopher Alberto Centeno-Marrero aka Chupy, aka Chupa, aka Compras
- Victor Cardoza aka Vitoy
- Francisco Efren Marin-Rodriguez aka Frank, aka F, aka El Viejo
- Cesar Tyron Villegas–Cintron
- Daniel Morla-Reyes aka Bebe, aka Bebe Murales, aka El Domi
- Christopher Maldonado-Lopez aka Gordo Flow
- Christian Maldonado-Lopez aka Ninja
- Jose Israel Rivera-Moran aka Isratek, aka Isra
- Christopher Pagan-Moux aka Zion
- Carlos Jadriel Rivera-Leon aka Hulk, aka Carlitos Hulk
- Jacier Collazo-Cruz
- Kenneth Noel Padilla-Martinez aka Dement, aka Demente
- Jairo Luis Sanchez-Romero aka Grillo
- Jonathan Yadriel Negron-Quintero aka Wiwi
- Adan David Lopez-Quintero aka Chaco
- Jadriel Yandel Bruno-Rodriguez aka Cuty
- Jose Rafael Dominguez-Rivera aka Ojos Bellos
- Bryan Joel Nieves-Romero aka Cabulla, aka Cabuya
- Kelvin Joel Rivas-Quinonez aka Piki, aka Rubio
- Kenneth Cordova-Real aka Pope, aka Menor
- Norma Iris Cintron-Pino aka Normita
- Angel Javier Marrero-Gonzalez aka Chacorta, aka Chacolta, aka Titi
- William Omar Nieves-Maisonet aka Tito Lloron
- Kevin Renier Marrero-Ocasio aka Coraje
- Edsel Rodriguez-Ramirez aka La R, aka El Gordo, aka El Goldo
- Miguel Angel Ayala-De Leon aka Tonka
- Jorge Luis Santiago-Robles aka El Mono, aka El Mono De Cerro Gandia
- Jeremy Nael Rodriguez-Ortega aka Jordan
- Shaquille Emmanuel Rivera-De Jesus
- Jonathan Montano-Menendez aka Ata
- Kelvin Luis Nunez-Otero aka Colilla
- Manuel Angel Jr. Torres-Perez aka Manolo
- Maria De Los Angeles Candelario-Rosa aka Maria Pasillo
- Victor David Santos-Medina aka Davisito
- Richard Vazquez-Aponte aka BTA
- Jorge Luis Rivera-Rodriguez aka El Mono, aka El Mono De Zorrillas
- Isaias Daniel Lugo-Nazario aka Panda
- John Anthony Sanchez-Valentin aka Joshua Pauta, aka Pauta
Thirty-three defendants face one charge of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and 15 are facing one count of possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
If convicted on the drug charges, the defendants face minimum sentences of 10 years and up to life in prison. If convicted of both the drug and firearms charges in Count Six of the indictment, the defendants face minimum sentences of 15 years and up to life in prison. The defendants charged in Count Seven with possession of machine guns in furtherance of drug trafficking face a mandatory sentence of 30 years in prison to be served consecutively with any sentence imposed for the drug trafficking charges.
All defendants face a narcotics forfeiture allegation of $31,347,400.
HSI and the Puerto Rico Police Bureau Arecibo Strike Force investigated the case with collaboration from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. The FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), CBP Air and Marine Operations, and the Barceloneta Police Department collaborated during the arrests.
Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Gang Section Alberto Lopez-Rocafort, Deputy Chief of the Gang Section Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa Zapata-Valladares, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Corinne Cordero-Romo and Joseph Russell are in charge of prosecuting the case.
“By arresting and prosecuting these defendants, the U.S. attorney’s office and its law enforcement partners are working to uphold the rule of law and punish violent offenders who terrorize our communities,” said Muldrow. “The Department of Justice is committed to dismantling criminal organizations, holding gang members accountable, and pursuing justice for victims.”
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multiagency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.