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HSI joins forces with USPIS to dismantle major drug trafficking organization

Operation nets 13 arrests of members of "Los Carniceros"

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), dismantled a major drug trafficking organization Thursday in Northern Puerto Rico. Special agents arrested 13 members of the organization, called "Los Carniceros," some of whom are allegedly involved in several murders.

The indictment alleges that sometime around October 2009, the defendants conspired to possess with the intent to distribute crack, cocaine, heroin and marijuana in the municipality of Manati, Puerto Rico. As part of the conspiracy, the defendants and co-conspirators purchased kilogram quantities of marijuana in the mainland and then shipped it to Puerto Rico using the U.S. Postal Service to be distributed by members of the criminal organization. The defendants then used the profits from the marijuana sales to purchase weapons, ammunition and other materials in order to commit violent acts against rival drug trafficking organizations.

Those arrested were: Jose Babilonia-Torres, aka Bochi; Victor Real-Alomar, aka Toston; Jose Gonzalez-Bernard, aka El Mudo; Irving Melecio-Ramirez, aka Gordo; Xavier Melecio Ramirez, aka Xavo; Felix Hernandez-Burgos, aka Bonito; Alexis Hernandez-Burgos, aka Chucho; Pablo Echevarria-Rodriguez; Jose Acevedo-Velez; Brian Osorio-Padilla; Orlando Felix-Negron, aka Orly; Nelson Alonso-Galarza; and, Pedro Javier Hernandez-Sosa.

The indictment includes allegations of five murders and two attempted murders, all committed by members of this organization. These acts are as follows:

  • On or about Feb. 16, 2010, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Jose Babilonia-Torres, Victor Real-Alomar, and Jose González-Bernard, shot and killed Frankie Rodríguez-Ornedo, aka Periquito.
  • On or about Aug. 18, 2010, in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, Gonzalez-Bernard shot and killed Luis Rodriguez-Rodriguez, aka Gaby.
  • Sometime in 2010, Babilonia-Torres and Gonzalez-Bernard shot and attempted to kill Jose Cintron-Otero, aka Checko.
  • On or about March 18, 2011, in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Irving Melecio-Ramírez, Xavier Melecio Ramírez, Real-Alomar, Gonzalez-Bernard, Felix A. Hernandez-Burgos and Alexis Hernandez-Burgos shot and killed Rolando Torres-Crespo, aka Nandy, and an innocent bystander, Dimaries Broco-Irizarry, 32, a lawyer who was killed at a drive-by shooting on a highway.
  • On June 7, 2011, Gonzalez-Bernard, aiding and abetting others, killed Jose Espinal-Lorenzo, aka Chelo.
  • On or about June 28, 2011, in Manati, Babilonia-Torres shot and attempted to kill Jonathan Ortiz-Salgado, aka Cochinola.

"Today's arrests should send a very clear message to those involved in drug trafficking and violent crimes that HSI will not rest until you are brought to justice," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI will continue working with our federal, state and local partners and using all the tools at our disposal to identify, arrest and prosecute those responsible for importing narcotics into the United States, thus contributing to the violence and criminal activity in our communities."

Those arrested were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, awaiting the outcome of their case.

Those arrested face a minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison if found guilty in a court of law.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected weapons and narcotics smuggling, and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.