U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Puerto Rico
District of Puerto Rico
For Immediate Release
May 30, 2012
Rosa Emilia Rodríguez–Vélez, United States Attorney
Contact: Lymarie V. Llovet–Ayala, Public Information Officer
74 Individuals Indicted for Drug Trafficking in the Municipality of Carolina
Narcotics forfeiture allegation of 14 million dollars
SAN JUAN, PR — On May 24, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted 74 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez–Vélez. DEA also collaborated during the investigation.
The defendants are charged in a six–count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
crack (cocaine base,) heroin, cocaine and marihuana. The object of the conspiracy was to distribute controlled substances at El Coral, Lagos de Blasina and El Faro Public Housing Projects, Villa Justicia Ward and other areas nearby and within the Municipality of Carolina, Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain and profit.
According to the indictment, from on or about the year 2004, the defendants conspired to possess with the intent to distribute
crack (cocaine base,) heroin, cocaine and marihuana at the drug distribution points within the above mentioned housing projects. The main leaders of the organization were David Oppenheimer–Torres, aka
Tomate; Jason Smith–Rodríguez, aka
Omero; Anibal Del Valle–Hiraldo, aka
Cachete; Luis Gómez–Ávila, aka
Tito; Luis Clemente–Cruz, aka
Luis Vitara; Jonathan Román–Carrasquillo, aka
John Boto and Nicky Figueroa–Quiles. The leaders of this drug trafficking organization purchased and transported wholesale amounts of cocaine that were delivered to co–conspirators for further distribution.
According to the indictment, the 74 co–conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: seven leaders, five enforcers, 11 runners, 47 sellers, one drug processor and three lookouts/facilitators.
It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that the drug points would move through different locations within El Coral, Lagos de Blasina and El Faro housing projects to avoid being detected by law enforcement. It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that members of the drug trafficking organization would often
abduct and assault rival drug traffickers as well as members of their own organization in order to intimidate and maintain control of the drug trafficking activities. The leaders had final approving authority as to disciplinary action to be imposed upon their own co–conspirators as well as rivals of the organization. 26 members of the drug trafficking organization are facing one count for using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Violent drug organizations hold our communities hostage, and promulgate fear, intimidation and violence, threatening the well being of law abiding citizens, said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez–Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
This investigation has taken dangerous criminals off the streets of Puerto Rico and sends a clear message to other violent gangs that we will break their grip on our communities and bring them to justice, no matter where they are.
ATF’s number one priority is to combat violent crime by targeting the criminals that supply the tools of the trade and the violent offenders that plague our communities, said Hugo Barrera, ATF Special Agent in–Charge.
Carolina, Puerto Rico, wakes up being a safer place today, because we took off the streets 74 violent criminals. ATF will continue in the FRONTLINE against violent crimes, illegal possession of firearms and illegal firearms trafficking with the valuable assistance of our Federal and local law enforcement counterparts.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Alberto López–Rocafort.
If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of ten (10) years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $10 million. However, the 26 defendants charged in count six of the indictment face a minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years to life. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.