U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
Southern District of New York
For Immediate Release
January 9, 2014
Preet Bharara, United States Attorney
Contact: James Margolin, Jerika Richardson, Jennifer Queliz
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Member of Bronx Narcotics Organization with Murder
Defendant Charged in Heroin and Crack Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Thomas J. Cannon, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and William J. Bratton, the Police Commissioner for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced today the filing of a Superseding Indictment in Manhattan federal court charging CATHERINE MORALES, a member of a drug trafficking organization (the “Organization”) that operated in the Bronx, with narcotics trafficking, firearms use and possession, and murder.
MORALES was arraigned yesterday before United States District Judge Richard J. Sullivan.
MORALES was previously charged in an Indictment with narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses, and was arrested by federal authorities in August 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was subsequently brought to Manhattan federal court in September 2013, to face those charges in the Southern District of New York. Co-defendants Adony Nina and Candido Antomattei, leaders of the Organization, were convicted of narcotics trafficking and firearms charges following a trial in October 2013. Nine other members of the Organization have pleaded guilty to various federal narcotics and firearms charges.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, Catherine Morales not only operated within a web of traffickers that spread dangerous drugs in our Bronx neighborhoods, she personally participated in the drug gang’s violence, including murdering a young woman by shooting her in the head. With this superseding indictment, she will be made to answer for her alleged conduct. This investigation and prosecution serves as a perfect example of how federal authorities, working with our local law enforcement partners, can make our streets and communities safer and free from violence.”
ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Thomas J. Cannon said: “The Morales indictment is a prime example of exemplary investigative work coupled with a balanced and focused prosecution. The investigation – initiated with a single arrest for weapons possession – has grown to approximately a dozen defendants and has uncovered a variety of criminal acts, including armed narcotics trafficking and homicide. I commend the ATF Agents and NYPD Detectives along with the prosecution team that have remained steadfast in their pursuit for justice. I know that the people of New York, especially those residing in the 41st precinct in the Bronx, echo my sentiments.”
NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “I would like to commend the investigators for their hard work and dedication in bringing this suspect to justice.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, other publicly filed documents, and statements made in court at MORALES’s arraignment and throughout the pendency of the case:
From 2008 through 2013, the Organization’s members sold crack cocaine and heroin, among other drugs, primarily in the vicinity of Longwood Avenue, and Beck, Kelly, and Simpson Streets in the Bronx. MORALES was involved primarily in the sale of heroin in the vicinity of Simpson and East 163rd Streets.
During and in relation to MORALES’s participation in the drug trafficking conspiracy, MORALES fatally shot victim Aisha Morales, who was 21 at the time of her death, in the head. The shooting took place in the vicinity of 1018 East 163rd Street, and was sparked by a drug-related dispute.
MORALES, 28, of Bronx, New York, is charged with one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of possessing firearms that were brandished and discharged, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of using firearms to cause the death of another person during and in relation to the narcotics conspiracy, which carries a potential maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of intentionally killing an individual while engaged in the narcotics conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the ATF and the NYPD, and added that the investigation is continuing.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher DiMase and Sarah Krissoff are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.