DOJ seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of New York

For Immediate Release

Monday, January 29, 2018
James P. Kennedy, Jr.
, United States Attorney
Contact: Barbara Burns

Eight Arrested and Charged in Roundup of Rochester Drug Trafficking Organization

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Carlos Javier Figueroa, a/k/a/ Javi, a/k/a Big Bro, 39, Roberto Figueroa, 42, Leitscha Poncedeleon, 28, and Orlando Yelder, 36, Jose Justiniano-Rodriguez, 18, Jashua Figueroa, 19,  and Obed Torres, 21, all of Rochester, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute and distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine, use of a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life. In addition, Felix Figueroa was arrested and charged in a separate complaint with distribution of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn Hartford, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, Carlos Javier Figueroa is the leader of a Rochester-based drug trafficking organization responsible for distributing numerous kilograms of cocaine in the City of Rochester. The organization was involved in the transportation and sale of cocaine and was also responsible for acts of violence in furtherance of the organization’s drug trade. Various locations throughout Rochester were utilized to receive, store, and sell the supply of illegal narcotics. Carlos Javier Figueroa and his co-conspirators coordinated shipments of cocaine from Puerto Rico, which were sent to locations in Rochester via the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Since September 2017, at least 23 packages have been sent from Puerto Rico to addresses associated with the organization via USPS. Once the packages arrived in Rochester, members of the organization, including Carlos Javier Figueroa, Roberto Figueroa, and Poncedeleon, picked up the packages and took them to another location. The cocaine was then distributed or broken down and packaged for sale in quantities to be further distributed by others. 

In April 2017, members of the Rochester Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit and Special Investigations Section received information from an active member of the organization stating that the individual feared for his/her safety. The individual told investigators that Carlos Javier Figueroa was willing to provide a reward for his/her murder and that Carlos Javier Figueroa has had people killed in the past and he/she was very afraid of him. 

In December 2017, the Rochester Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began utilizing court authorized wiretaps and surveilling the area of 6 and 12 Burbank Street in Rochester, believed to be Carlos Javier Figueroa’s residence; 292 Barrington Street in Rochester, believed to be Roberto Figueroa and Poncedeleon’s residence and a stash house where shipments of cocaine are stored; 59 Fernwood Avenue in Rochester, a residence belonging to Carlos Javier Figueroa and the address where at least two packages of suspected cocaine were shipped to from Puerto Rico; and 820 East Main Street in Rochester.

On January 29, 2018, during the execution of state search warrants, law enforcement officers seized more than $600,000 in cash, six assault rifles, two loaded handguns, over three kilograms of cocaine, and a quantity of suspected heroin and fentanyl.   

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Violent Crime Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict, New York Field Division; the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli; the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Patrick Phelan; the Brighton Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Henderson; and U.S. Border Patrol, under the direction of Patrol Agent-in-Charge Gregory Johnson.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


Field Division: New York Field Division