NEW YORK- Roberto Valentino Cruz, also known as "Cholo," "Jorge," and "Roberto Vasquez," was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, following his July 2, extradition from Spain to the United States on charges of participating in an international drug trafficking conspiracy. At his arraignment on Friday, July 2, Cruz was ordered detained pending trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom.
The extradition and arraignment were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (ICE).
Cruz is charged in an indictment filed in Brooklyn federal court with conspiring between approximately November 2006 and October 2008 to import and distribute heroin in the United States. Three other defendants were charged in the same indictment. According to a previously filed complaint, one of Cruz's co-defendants was caught at Miami International Airport attempting to smuggle 5.5 kilograms of heroin into the United States from Ecuador. In all, the government has seized more than 30 kilograms of heroin in connection with the investigation of these defendants.
Cruz, a United States citizen, fled to Ecuador when his co-conspirators were arrested. He was subsequently located in Spain, arrested pursuant to the American warrant, and extradited.
"The government will use all resources at its disposal to locate and prosecute the smugglers of illegal drugs," said United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, and the government of Spain.
"This investigation and extradition illustrate ICE's commitment to bring to justice those responsible for the proliferation of illegal drugs in our communities, no matter where in the world they hide," said ICE Special Agent-in-Charge Hayes. "Cruz is a major target believed responsible for importing vast quantities of heroin into this country, a drug that is a growing and a lethal problem in American communities."
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Cruz faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on each of two charges against him. The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation.
The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ali Kazemi.