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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Puerto Rico

For Immediate Release

December 10, 2010

Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney

Contact: Lymarie V. Llovet-Ayala, Public Affairs Specialist
(787) 282-1820

132 Individuals Indicted for Drug Trafficking in the Municipality of San Juan

SAN JUAN, PR — On December 8, 2010, a federal grand jury indicted one hundred and thirty-two (132) individuals as a result of an investigation by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) — San Juan Strike Force, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a six-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and with distribution of narcotics and controlled substances. Count two charges twenty (20) defendants of using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

In the year 2007, Benny Medina-García had control of a drug distribution point located at the Vista Hermosa Public Housing Project. Upon Benny Medina-Garcia’s death in 2007, Victor Colón-Bench, aka Yogi, El Loco, El Father became a main leader of the drug trafficking organization. Colón-Bench controlled, through co-defendants also acting as leaders, the drug distribution points located at Vista Hermosa.

The defendants are charged with participating in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances for significant financial gain and profit. The defendants and their co-conspirators would purchase wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, Xanax and Percocet in order to distribute the same in street quantity amounts at their drug distribution points. The leaders would maintain a group of co-defendants administrating the activities of the drug distribution points. The leaders of this organization would divide among themselves and their subordinates the proceeds of the drug trafficking sales.

The drug owners would often receive proceeds from the sale of specific controlled substances. These controlled substances were sold in distinctive Abaggies@, vials or packaging, using specific seals (sellos) or stickers in order to identify, and maintain control of the drugs distributed at the drug distribution points. They would use apartments in order to package and conceal the heroin, crack, cocaine, marijuana, pills, as well as the equipment and the materials used to process and package the controlled substances (drug paraphernalia). The members of the drug trafficking organization would use force, violence and intimidation in order to gain and maintain control of their drug points and in order to intimidate rival drug trafficking organizations and/or expand their drug trafficking activities.

The one hundred and thirty-two (132) co-conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: one (1) leader, twenty-five (25) drug point owners/administrators, two (2) enforcers, two (2) suppliers, twenty-three (23) runners, eighty (80) sellers, drug processors, lookouts and facilitators.

Today, federal and state law enforcement agencies join forces in removing this drug trafficking organization which for many years had been intimidating the citizens of our Capital City, San Juan, with their violence and had been spreading the scourge of illegal drugs in this town and neighboring communities, said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

Since the Strike Force Initiative started in 2006, the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Puerto Rico has investigated and prosecuted 1,852 defendants. Today we add 132 defendants, for a total of 1,984. All the defendants who have decided to go to trial have been convicted.

This OCDETF investigation is just another example of the tremendous collaboration and partnerships between ATF and our Federal, State, and Local law enforcement partners in the battle to stem the flow of firearms and drugs into our Puerto Rican communities, said Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge of ATF. The 132 individuals of this Drug Trafficking Organization openly sold narcotics while armed with firearms terrorizing our communities. We are proud to have conducted this investigation with all our law enforcement partners. These efforts continually strengthen our commitment in keeping the citizens of Puerto Rico safe and secure.

Guns and drugs are a lethal mix. Once again DEA has teamed up with "ATFATF to undo this deadly combination and stop the associated violence affecting our neighborhoods. As we have warned the bad guys time and again, we are not giving up, stated Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Caribbean Division. Drug and guns traffickers beware. With our close partnership with PRPD, San Juan PD and NIE, DEA and ATF will continue riding the island of drugs and guns. Sooner or later we’ll knock at your door

The case was investigated by ATF, DEA and PRPD, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mariana Bauzá.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of ten (10) years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $8 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.