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December 7, 2011New York, NY, United StatesTransnational Gangs

Trinitarios gang members arrested in New York

NEW YORK – Fifty members and associates of the Bronx Trinitarios Gang (BTG) have been charged with racketeering, narcotics and firearms offenses. BTG allegedly operated as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO), and 41 defendants were charged with racketeering conspiracy, related to their participation in this criminal organization, which engaged in narcotics trafficking, murder and attempted murder. These charges stem from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).

"The enforcement action today is part of our continuing attack on violent gang members who have little regard for the law and degrade the quality of life in our communities," said James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New York. "Our ultimate goal is to get these gang members off New York City streets, prosecute them for their crimes, and when possible remove them from the United States."

"As alleged, for nearly eight years, the Trinitarios street gang terrorized a wide swath of the Bronx with their drug dealing and violence," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Southern District of New York. "Gangs like the Trinitarios are a cancer on New York's neighborhoods – both in the physical harm they inflict and the atmosphere of despair they create. Today's arrests again demonstrate this Office's commitment to eradicating the scourge of gangs throughout the Southern District of New York and to giving back to residents the peaceful enjoyment of their communities. In the past two years, we have prosecuted over 400 alleged gang members and our efforts remain very much ongoing."

"Today, law enforcement has caught up with the drug trafficking organization, known as the Trinitarios, again," said Wilbert Plummer, acting special agent in charge of the DEA's New York Field Division. "Over 30 arrests were made for distributing multitudes of illicit narcotics throughout the streets of New York City. Our residents deserve to live in a neighborhood free from drug trafficking and the associated violence."

"The 'Bad Boys' are out of their narcotics-related business of shootings, stabbings and gun trafficking because of outstanding work by the NYPD Gang Division, federal agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office," said NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

"Today's arrest of members of the violent 'Bronx Trinitarios Gang' is yet another indication of law enforcement's pledge to making our communities safer," said Joseph Anarumo Jr., special agent in charge of the ATF in New York. "This is the second, in-depth strike against this violent gang which terrorized upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Today's arrests only reinforce ATF's commitment to working together with our partners targeting armed, violent gang members and narcotics traffickers preying on our neighborhoods."

"The cooperation and collaboration between the various law enforcement agencies that led to the successful outcome of Operation Patria highlights the effectiveness of this joint effort," said New York DOCCS Commissioner Brian Fischer. "Members of the DOCCS Inspector General's office, as well as other key Department staff, provided critically important support to this investigation and we will continue to cooperate with our law enforcement partners whenever the need arises."

According to court documents, the BTG is a criminal organization that operates primarily in the Bronx. BTG members and associates engage in acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, and threats of violence, in order to protect and expand their criminal operations and to defend their territory against rival street gangs. BTG members and associates also sell numerous types of narcotics, including marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, oxycodone and suboxone.

According to the indictment, Leonides Sierra, Richard Gonzalez, Jose Cruz, Carlos Urena, Edwin Ciriaco, Anibal Ramos, and Antonio Pena are leaders and members of the BTG who directed other members to carry out illegal and other activities as part of the racketeering conspiracy including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking. The indictment also charges that many members were part of a gang within the BTG that was headed by Cruz and was known as the "Bad Boys."

Forty-nine BTG members and associates are charged with conspiring to sell more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, more than 28 grams of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, oxycodone and suboxone. Forty-three individuals are charged with using and carrying firearms during and in relation to the racketeering conspiracy, and with possessing firearms in furtherance of that conspiracy. Thirteen individuals are also charged with trafficking firearms without being licensed importers, manufacturers, or dealers of firearms.

In connection with these arrests, federal and local law enforcement officers also executed court-authorized search warrants at 22 locations tied to the investigation. During the arrests and searches, agents and officers seized, among other evidence, quantities of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, at least two firearms with ammunition, two machetes, and multiple knives.

In a coordinated strike, 33 defendants were arrested in New York. Three defendants, Sierra, Juan Nunez, and Jonathan Majdanski, are already in custody on state charges. Jonathan Evangelista was arrested in Georgia. As of the time of this news release, the following defendants are still being sought: Alfred Laford, Cesar Almonte, Carlonell Paulino, Ronald Peralta, Jose Ballenilla, Jose Geronimo-Figueroa, Henry O. Pena, Dave McPherson, Vance Hill, Nelson Jorge-Martinez and Henry Paulino. Antonio Pena and Julio Brito are believed to be in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. government will seek their extradition to the United States.

These charges are the result of a long-term investigation, "Operation Patria," conducted by federal and local law enforcement officers working with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Operation Patria is the second coordinated law enforcement strike against the Trinitarios gang. In March 2009, 41 members and associates of the gang's Manhattan faction were arrested and charged with narcotics and firearms offenses. The original indictment was superseded to add racketeering charges, including murder, conspiracy to murder, and multiple attempted murders in aid of racketeering.