For Immediate Release
Three Leaders of Little Havana Drug Trafficking Organization Found Guilty
Miami, Florida – Following a nine-week trial, a federal jury in Miami has found three leaders of a violent drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood guilty of various firearms, narcotics, and money laundering crimes.
According to the trial evidence, from 2013 to 2018, Ulysses Cabrera, a/k/a “Uley,” a/k/a “Big Cuz,” 32, and Bernardo Quinonez, a/k/a “Macho,” 34, both of Miami, led a continuing criminal enterprise that distributed cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana onto the streets of Little Havana. Cabrera supplied the cocaine and managed the operation. B. Quinonez was a co-manager who supervised the people turning the cocaine into crack inside local homes. The third trial defendant, Victor Smith, a/k/a “OGP,” 26, of Miami, oversaw the street-level drug sales. When rival drug dealers threatened the territory that they controlled or questioned their authority, Cabrera and B. Quinonez directed Smith and other armed members of the ring to intimidate, maim, and, in some instances, kill people. Innocent bystanders were sometimes shot and injured. Cabrera and B. Quinonez laundered the dirty drug money in various ways, including buying Opa-Locka real estate.
Law enforcement seizures in this case included approximately 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, several grams of crack cocaine, more than 26 pounds of marijuana, four assault rifles, 10 pistols, 10 extended magazines, 10 semi-automatic firearms, a short barrel rifle, a revolver and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
The jury convicted Cabrera of one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, one count of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, four counts of money laundering crimes, and four counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The jury convicted B. Quinonez of one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, one count of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, one count of drive-by shooting, one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, three counts of money laundering, seven counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and one count of maintaining an establishment to distribute controlled substances. It convicted Smith of one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, one count of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, as well as one count of armed robbery and one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Sentencing is set for August 1, before Chief United States District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. Cabrera, B. Quinonez, and Smith face up to life in prison.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Christopher A. Robinson, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division; George A. Perez, Interim Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD); Manuel A. Morales, Chief of Police, City of Miami Police Department (MPD); and Gadyaces S. Serralta, U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), made the announcement.
This case stems from Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. In 2017, PSN was reinvigorated as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
This case and prosecution were carried out by members of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The South Florida HIDTA, established in 1990, is made up of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who, cooperatively, target the region’s drug-trafficking and money laundering organizations. The South Florida HIDTA is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which sponsors a variety of initiatives focused on the nation’s illicit drug trafficking threats.
This prosecution was part of Operation Havana Ghost, which is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime. The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.
ATF Miami, MDPD (including the MDPD Street Terror Offender Program (STOP)), MPD, and U.S. Marshals Service investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ellen D’Angelo and Rilwan Adeduntan are prosecuting it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling asset forfeiture.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 18-cr-20946.