NEW YORK – Pursuant to an investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) unsealed an indictment Monday of five individuals for various drug and weapons charges.
The indictment alleges Jose Sergio Martinez-Aguilar, 39; Vladimir Pulstilinkov, 44; Miguel Lovos, 31; Sebastian Ramos, 29; and Ricardo Ruiz-Salinas, 43; were members of an international drug trafficking organization. The government charges Martinez-Aguilar of Thermal, California; and Lovos of Indio, California, with three counts of narcotics conspiracy and one count of firearms possession in connection with drug trafficking. Pulstilinkov, also of Indio, is charged with two counts of narcotics conspiracy and one count of firearms possession in connection with drug trafficking. Ramos and Ruiz-Salinas, both of Brooklyn, New York, each are charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy. If convicted, the accused could face 10 years to life imprisonment.
“As alleged, Jose Sergio Martinez-Aguilar led an international drug trafficking organization that imported potentially lethal drugs from Mexico and distributed them throughout the U.S., including right here in New York. Now, thanks to the efforts of HSI, Martinez-Aguilar and his co-defendants are in custody and facing serious federal charges,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.
The investigation, which included court-authorized intercepts of the drug trafficking organization’s communication, revealed that Martinez-Aguilar, who led the operation, oversaw the importation and distribution of large quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine in cities across the United States. Charging documents also allege the organization discussed moving its operation closer to the U.S.-Mexico border to increase the ease of moving its products between the two countries.
While executing a June 26 search warrant of a California stash house operated by the drug trafficking organization, law enforcement officers arrested Lovos and recovered heroin, methamphetamine, and other suspected narcotics, as well as multiple handguns and assault rifles.
In addition to HSI, the investigation included a collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the Pennsylvania State Police, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
The defendants in this case are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.