Forty-Seven Individuals Indicted for Alleged Drug Trafficking in the Municipality of Corozal, Puerto Rico

September 22, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 22, 2011 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, PR— On September 21, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted 47 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD)-Bayamón 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 heroin, “crack” (cocaine base,) cocaine, marijuana, Oxycodone (commonly known as “Percocet”), and Alprazolam (commonly known as “Xanax”). Count six charges 36 defendants with using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

According to the indictment, Luis Agosto-López, aka “Tutin,” became the main leader of the drug trafficking organization upon the death of Gamalier Rosado-Serrano, aka “Gamma,” on or about May 9, 2004. The object of the conspiracy was to distribute controlled substances at the Enrique Landron Public Housing Project, located in the Municipality of Corozal, Puerto Rico, for significant financial gain.

It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that some of the defendants and their co-conspirators would provide payments to an undisclosed source in exchange for sensitive law enforcement information, as to dates and times of prospective interventions by the Police of Puerto Rico at the Enrique Landron Public Housing Project and/or police protection and escort to members of the conspiracy during the transportation of narcotics from different housing projects located within the Municipalities of San Juan and Bayamón to the Enrique Landron Public Housing Project.

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 47 co-conspirators had many roles in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: seven leaders/drug point owners, one supplier, three enforcers, five runners, 24 sellers, one drug processor, three look-outs, and three facilitators.

The “drug owners” would often receive proceeds from the sale of these controlled substances. The controlled substances were sold in distinctive baggies, vials, or packaging, using stickers or brands in order to identify and maintain control of the drugs disseminated at the drug distribution points. They would use their homes to process kilogram quantities of narcotics for street level sales. 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.

“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 send a clear message to other violent gangs that we will break their grip on our communities and bring them to justice.”

“This gang was a very violent gang which maintained control of its drug trafficking activities by way of force, violence, and intimidation, but after today’s law enforcement action, this gang will no longer cause harm to the people of Puerto Rico and the residents of the town of Corozal,” said Carlos Cases-Gallardo, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-San Juan Field Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Alberto López-Rocafort and Cesar Rivera-Giraud.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 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.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Christopher Coke Pleaded Guilty in Federal Court to Trafficking Large Quantities of Marijuana and Cocaine, as well as Approving the Stabbing of a Marijuana Dealer in New York

September 1, 2011

The New York Times on September 1, 2011 released the following in print:

“Jamaican Kingpin Seized After Violent Manhunt Pleads Guilty in Manhattan

By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN

Christopher Coke, a Jamaican drug trafficker whose arrest last summer came after a monthlong manhunt that left scores dead in Kingston, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to racketeering conspiracy charges in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The guilty plea emerged during an hour of quiet dialogue between Mr. Coke and a federal judge, a proceeding that stood in sharp contrast to the violence generated last year as the Jamaican authorities searched for Mr. Coke, a neighborhood don, at the request of American prosecutors.

Mr. Coke, a short, balding man of 42, pleaded guilty to trafficking large quantities of marijuana and cocaine, as well as approving the stabbing of a marijuana dealer in New York. He faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison; the plea deal does not require him to cooperate or to testify on behalf of the government in any proceeding.

“I’m pleading guilty because I am,” he told Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr.

In seeking Mr. Coke’s extradition, Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, charged that for more than a decade Mr. Coke had controlled an international drug ring from his stronghold of Tivoli Gardens in Kingston.

His organization often transported cocaine to Miami and New York, prosecutors said. A portion of the profits, they said, went to buy guns in the United States, which were shipped back to Mr. Coke, who wielded considerable political influence in Jamaica. His organization was so well armed that it “rendered the Tivoli Gardens area virtually off-limits to the local police,” prosecutors wrote in a recent court filing.

The extradition and prosecution of Mr. Coke’s father, a leader of the same criminal organization, had been sought by the United States, but he died in a mysterious fire in a Jamaican prison cell in 1992.

The manhunt for Christopher Coke last year led to more than 70 deaths; in some instances, the police executed unarmed men, according to relatives of victims. In the months before the Jamaican prime minister, Bruce Golding, acted on the extradition request, Jamaican leaders warned officials in the American Embassy that any move to arrest Mr. Coke could result in widespread violence or civil unrest because Mr. Coke was well fortified in Tivoli Gardens and had a measure of popular support, according to a review of secret State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

His plea deal came together in recent days after prosecutors told Mr. Coke’s lawyers that various confidential informers were prepared to testify that Mr. Coke had been involved in five murders, one of Mr. Coke’s lawyers, Stephen H. Rosen, said. One witness was prepared to testify that Mr. Coke used a chain saw to kill someone who had stolen drugs from him, according to a filing.

Under the original indictment, Mr. Coke could have faced a life sentence if convicted.

Mr. Coke’s lawyers described him as a well-spoken man who had never cursed in their presence; they said he had approached his new life in federal custody, where he is held under unusually restrictive conditions, with stoicism. “He’s never been in bad spirits,” one of the lawyers, Frank A. Doddato, said. “Let’s just say he’s one of the last tough guys.”

Dressed in a blue smock and orange socks, Mr. Coke was one of the first in the courtroom to stand when Judge Patterson entered on Wednesday, and he was the last to sit down. During a lengthy hearing in which he was asked routine questions, like whether his lawyers had provided effective assistance and whether he had recently consumed drugs or alcohol, Mr. Coke remained perched attentively on the edge of his seat, answering each question carefully.

In giving a statement of his guilt, Mr. Coke remained vague as to the specific crimes he had committed. He said that “a person gave someone narcotics on my behalf, on my instructions,” without offering any further details other than the year, 2007.

Initially, Judge Patterson voiced skepticism that the vaguely described crimes to which Mr. Coke was pleading guilty met the standard for racketeering.

When Mr. Coke pleaded guilty to approving the stabbing of a marijuana dealer in the Bronx in 2007, Judge Patterson asked whether the person had sustained serious injury — a component of the charge. Mr. Coke said he believed the person was stabbed in the face.

“Was it something that required hospitalization or was it something he could go home and brag about?” the judge asked.

Mr. Coke said that he was in Jamaica at the time and did not know the details, but that he was sure it would have required medical attention. He did not offer the name of the person who was stabbed. Asked for details about the violence, Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bharara, refused to name the victim or the attacker.

Mr. Coke acknowledged involvement in the distribution of more than three tons of marijuana and more than 30 pounds of cocaine.

In addition to the confidential informers, prosecutors built the case using wiretaps the Jamaican authorities had been collecting since 2004, when they started eavesdropping on Mr. Coke’s cellphone conversations and on those of other members of his drug trafficking enterprise, according to a court filing.

Mr. Rosen said that some 50,000 conversations had been intercepted in the investigation. Of those, he said, “there was only one in which there was discussion of violence, and I can tell you it wasn’t murder.””

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Texas Syndicate Gang Members and Associates Sentenced to Prison

August 31, 2011

U.S. Attorneys Office Southern District of Texas on August 30, 2011 released the following:

“McALLEN, Texas – Six Texas Syndicate members and associates have been sentenced to prison for racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, kidnapping and possession with intent distribute cocaine, United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno announced today.

At a hearing on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced the chairman of the Texas Syndicate in the Rio Grande Valley, Jose Ismael Salas, 40 of Edinburg, Texas, to 20 years in federal prison without parole for drug trafficking offenses in violation of the racketeering statute. Salas pleaded guilty on April 2, 2009, admitting to committing two acts of racketeering, namely two separate acts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance – six kilograms of cocaine on Aug. 12, 2004, and 39 kilograms of marijuana on March 28, 2003, intending to further the goals of the gang.

Five other members or associates of the gang were also sentenced yesterday by Judge Hinojosa including Fidel Valle, 45 of Donna, Texas – the source of drug supply to the gang who employed gang members to assist in his drug distribution business. He received 126 months imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute six kilograms of cocaine. On July 28, 2009,Valle pleaded guilty to the federal felony drug charge acknowledging that on Aug. 12, 2004, upon being contacted by Salas, Valle agreed to sell approximately six kilograms (approximately 13 pounds) of cocaine to Salas’s associates. That drug load was found and seized by law enforcement officers during a traffic stop of a Ford pickup seen leaving Valle’s residence in Donna on Aug. 12, 2004.

Romeo Rosales, 41 of Raymondville, Texas – an admitted Texas Syndicate gang member who was convicted of kidnapping Amancio Pinales-Garcia – was sentenced to 151 months imprisonment. Reyes, son-in-law of the kidnapping victim, sought a monetary reward to turn over Pinales-Garcia to unknown subjects in Mexico. Pinales-Garcia was shot several times in the low torso during the struggle and subsequently died in Mexico. Rosales pleaded guilty to kidnapping Pinales-Garcia on March 3, 2009.

Noel De Los Santos, 33, of Donna, Texas was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment for violent crimes in aid of racketeering, that is, for the murder of Crisantos Moran on March 20, 2003. According to trial testimony, Moran had been ordered by the Texas Syndicate to kill a rival gang member who lived near Penitas, Texas. De Los Santos and Jose Armando Garcia, both Texas Syndicate gang members, agreed to accompany Moran to commit the murder. However, Moran failed to carry out the order as given. Instead, De Los Santos and Garcia shot and killed Moran for failing to carry out the order. On Aug. 10, 2010, Garcia was convicted of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 5, 2011.

Cristobal Hernandez, 31, and Arturo Rodriguez, 28, both of Brownsville, Texas, were sentenced to 120 and 240 months imprisonment, respectively, for violent crimes in aid of racketeering arising from the murder of Marcelino Rodriguez in June 2007. After members of the Texas Syndicate obtained a copy of a sealed court document from an employee of a McAllen area law firm which represented Marcelino Rodriguez in a federal case, the murder of Marcelino Rodriguez was approved by the leadership of the Texas Syndicate. Hernandez and Arturo Rodriguez were recruited by Raul Galindo to commit the murder. Galindo shot Marcelino Rodriguez in the back of the head while Arturo Rodriguez set the vehicle on fire with gasoline. On Aug. 10, 2010, Galindo was convicted of violent crimes in aid of racketeering and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant. On Jan. 5, 2011, Galindo was sentenced to life imprisonment.

All six of the defendants sentenced yesterday are in federal custody and will remain in custody pending transfer to Bureau of Prisons facilities to be designated in the near future.

All 13 charged in this case have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Juan Pablo Hinojosa, who was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Jan. 5, 2011. On Jan. 28, 2010, Benjamin Piedra pleaded guilty to violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to 120 months confinement and three years of supervised release on Feb. 22, 2011. Adan Roberto Ruiz pleaded guilty to criminal information charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, while Jorge Puga pleaded to a criminal information charging him with possession with intent to distribute 39 kilograms of marijuana. Ruiz and Puga received 52 and 37 months, respectively. Joel Carcano Jr. pleaded guilty providing false statements – admitting he lied to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents when he falsely stated he did not provide a copy of downward departure motion to Texas Syndicate members. This document was used as the basis to order the murder of the government’s informant. On Feb. 22, 2011, Carcano was sentenced to 52 months custody and a three-year-term of supervised release.

The investigation leading to the federal charges and subsequent conviction of these admitted Texas Syndicate gang members was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Robert Wells, Jr. prosecuted the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Cornell Wade Sentenced in U.S. District Court in Wheeling on Federal Drug Charges

August 16, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of West Virginia on August 15, 2011 released the following:

“Wheeling Resident Sentenced on Drug Charge

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – A 35 year old Wheeling, West Virginia, resident who was a key player in the Robert “R.J.” Saunders conspiracy was sentenced in United States District Court in Wheeling before Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II announced that CORNELL WADE was sentenced today to 89 months imprisonment to be followed by four years of supervised release. In March WADE entered a plea of guilty to one count of a drug conspiracy involving over 500 grams of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana; one count of the aiding and abetting Saunders in the illegal use of a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling; and one count of aiding and abetting Saunders in the possession with intent to distribute cocaine within 1,000 feet of the Madison Elementary School on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling. For these convictions WADE received 77 months in prison, and then was given another 12 months in prison for violating his supervised release on a prior federal drug conviction, for a total of 89 months of incarceration.

As part of his plea, WADE has agreed to the forfeiture of his interest in money seized from his residence on August 27, 2009, and admitted to supplying Saunders between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds of crack cocaine between 2006 and 2009. WADE was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr and was investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force. The Task Force consists of officers from the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Seventeen Charged in Drug Conspiracy, Accused of Distributing Cocaine in Washington, DC Area

August 10, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia on August 9, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON – Fifteen individuals have been arrested in connection with a three-year investigation into drug trafficking in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. At the time of the arrests, law enforcement officers seized illegal narcotics, six firearms, four vehicles, and more than $600,000 in cash. The arrests follow the return of a federal indictment charging 17 individuals with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana.

The arrests, indictments, and seizures were announced today by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The defendants were indicted on Thursday, August 4, 2011 on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds derived from and assets used to commit the alleged crimes. If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of ten years in custody and a maximum of life in prison.

The seventeen defendants charged include Espey Brown, Jr., 37, of Washington, D.C.; Keith Gregory Gaston, 39, of Silver Spring, MD; Angela Denise Peoples, 40, of Washington, D.C.; Eugene Edward Gadson, 38, of Washington, D.C.; Derrick Anthony Harris, 37, of Washington, D.C.; Laura Ann Cooper, 51, of Washington, D.C.; Gregory Tuckson, 55, of Washington, D.C.; Harry Terrell, Jr., 68, of Washington, D.C.; Thomas Kearney, Jr., 53, of Washington, D.C.; Gregory Martin, 55, of Washington, D.C.; David Emanuel Kyle, 41, of Camp Springs, MD; Tyrone Marcel Smith, 42, of Accokeek, MD; Joseph Garvin Young, 35, of Lanham, MD; Anthony Andre Carter, 32, of Fort Washington, MD; Walter Lybrant Hayman, 47, of Glenn Dale, MD; Marcus Alfred Gurley, 31, of Glenn Dale, MD; and Eric Michael Woods, 40, of Washington, D.C.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

Following the return of the indictment, law enforcement officers executed a series of arrest and search warrants in the District of Columbia and Maryland during the early morning hours of August 9, 2011, confiscating approximately one-half kilogram of cocaine, one-quarter kilogram of crack cocaine, and one pound of marijuana. In addition, the officers seized four vehicles, more than $600,000 in cash, and six firearms, including two machine pistols.

“These arrests and seizures are the result of a concerted, relentless campaign to disrupt and dismantle the networks that fuel drug addiction in our city,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. “By removing these narcotics and guns from our neighborhoods, we have made the District of Columbia a safer place.”

“Today’s arrests show the hard work and determination of agents and detectives from FBI, MPD, Prince George’s County Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Park Police who partner together to rid our streets of these alleged drug networks,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin.

“Because of our continued focus in the Shaw community, we have seen a dramatic reduction in violent crime,” said Chief Lanier. “These arrests are an example of the efforts of law enforcement working together to make our communities safer.”

The prosecution grew out of three years of investigative activities by a long-term FBI/MPD alliance called the Safe Streets Task Force. The Safe Streets Initiative involves more than 150 Safe Streets Task Forces around the country that combat street gangs by combining federal, state and local police resources. The task forces, which began in 1992 in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, address gang activity including drug-related crimes. Sharing resources, manpower and intelligence allows federal prosecutors to focus on securing the maximum sentences and penalties for gang members found guilty. By working through a Task Force, investigators can focus on the entire criminal enterprise, instead of the prosecution of individual gang members.

In announcing the indictments, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin and Chief Lanier commended the work of the FBI and MPD members of the task force who investigated the case. They also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Park Police, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and the Prince George’s County Police Department, all of which provided assistance. Finally, they cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth F. Whitted, Seth Adam Meinero, and Barry Wiegand.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Alleged Mexican Mafia Members Paul Anthony Sanchez, Eduardo Garcia, Jason Ryan Gonzales, Christopher Ybarra, Jesus P. Sanchez, Adrian Lemus, John Jay Navarro, Andrew Rodriguez, and Joseph Andrew Correa Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on Federal Drug Charges

August 10, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas on August 9, 2011 released the following:

“FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES ARREST NINE HONDO-BASED TEXAS MEXICAN MAFIA MEMBERS BASED ON FEDERAL CHARGES

United States Attorney John E. Murphy, FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced today that eight Hondo, Texas-based members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) have been arrested based on a federal drug indictment; an ninth TMM member, on a federal firearms charge.

Those arrested, and charged by indictment include: 30-year-old Paul Anthony Sanchez of Hondo, Texas; 40-year-old Eduardo Garcia of Poteet, Texas; 30-year-old Jason Ryan Gonzales of Hondo; 29-year-old Christopher Ybarra of Hondo; 31-year-old Jesus P. Sanchez of San Antonio; 31-year-old Adrian Lemus of Hondo; 23-year-old John Jay Navarro of Pearsall, Texas, and, 29-year-old Andrew Rodriguez of Hondo. Authorities are still looking for 37-year-old Joseph Andrew Correa of Hondo.

A federal grand jury indictment, returned on July 20, 2011, and unsealed today, charges that since October 1, 2010, all of the defendants, with the exception of Rodriguez, have conspired to interfere with commerce by threats and/or violence. The indictment alleges that they conspired to extort money from methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana traffickers operating in Hondo, Poteet and Pearsall through the coercive collection of a ten percent drug tax, also known as “the dime.” Collection of “the dime” was enforced by robbery, serious bodily injury or other acts of violence.

The indictment also charges defendants Correa and Rodriguez with two counts of distribution of methamphetamine; Sanchez, one count of distribution of heroin. Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge and between five and 40 years in federal prison per drug distribution charge.

Authorities also arrested 38-year-old Ignacio Aragon, Jr., of San Antonio this morning while executing a search warrant at his residence. Investigators discovered a loaded .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol inside the residence. A federal criminal complaint, filed this morning, charges Aragon with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Aragon’s criminal history includes felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance, burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Upon conviction, Aragon faces up to ten years in federal prison.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation together with the Texas Department of Public Safety–Criminal Investigations Division. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals Service, San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Department and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office also assisted in this investigation.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Andrew Zayac Found Guilty of Federal Murder by a Federal Jury in Bridgeport

July 25, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Connecticut on July 22, 2011 released the following:

“David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal jury in Bridgeport has found ANDREW ZAYAC, 31, of Scarsdale, New York, guilty of federal murder and other offenses in connection with the February 8, 2009, kidnap and murder of Edward Rivera, 37, of the Bronx, New York. The trial began on July 14 and the jury returned the verdicts this afternoon.

“I want to commend the excellent work by members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Danbury Police Department and the United States Marshals Service who investigated this matter and have helped to provide justice for the victim’s family and loved ones,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein.

According to the evidence presented during the trial, in early 2009, ZAYAC negotiated the purchase of 68 pounds of marijuana from Edward Rivera. ZAYAC and Rivera arranged to meet on February 8, 2009, to complete the transaction. On that date, ZAYAC kidnapped Rivera from the Bronx for the purpose of robbing him of the marijuana. During the course of the kidnapping and robbery, Rivera was shot twice and died as a result of the gunshot wounds. ZAYAC and his associate, Heriberto Gonzalez, 31, also of the Bronx, then dumped Rivera’s body in Danbury, Connecticut, drove back to the Bronx and burned ZAYAC’s car.

On February 28, 2009, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at ZAYAC’s residence and seized approximately 61 pounds of marijuana. ZAYAC was arrested at that time.

Today the jury found ZAYAC guilty of one count of kidnapping resulting in death, one count of murder during the commission of a robbery, one count of interference with commerce through the use of violence, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of conspiracy to use or possess a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence and a narcotics trafficking offense, three counts of destruction/concealment of evidence, and one count of conspiracy to destroy/conceal evidence. The jury found ZAYAC not guilty of one count of premeditated murder.

United States District Judge Janet C. Hall has scheduled sentencing for October 7, 2011, at which time ZAYAC faces a mandatory term of imprisonment of life on the murder charges.

On June 21, 2011, after a separate trial, a jury found Gonzalez guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, three counts of destruction/concealment of evidence, and one count of conspiracy to destroy/conceal evidence. He awaits sentencing.

ZAYAC has been detained since his arrest. Gonzalez was arrested on June 17, 2009, and is also detained.

This matter has been investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Danbury Police Department and the United States Marshals Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael J. Gustafson and Brian P. Leaming.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Melvin L. Calhoun Indicted by a Buffalo Federal Grand Jury with Narcotics and Firearm Offenses

July 22, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of New York on July 21, 2011 released the following:

“NIAGARA FALLS MAN CHARGED WITH NARCOTICS AND FIREARM OFFENSES

BUFFALO, N.Y.–U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury in Buffalo has returned a three count Indictment against Melvin L. Calhoun, 22, of Niagara Falls, New York, charging him with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, maintaining a drug involved premises, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert C. Moscati, who is handling the case, stated that the Indictment charges the defendant with storing and selling marijuana at 119 12th Street, Niagara Falls, New York. On October 1, 2010, local officers and federal agents executed a search warrant at Calhoun’s residence and recovered quantities of marijuana, a digital scale, and a .38 caliber pistol from Calhoun’s bedroom.

The Indictment is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Chella, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Resident Agent in-Charge Frank Christiano, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Resident Agent in-Charge Dale Kaspryzyk.

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.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Laredo Jury Convicts Chicago Man of Trafficking Marijuana

July 21, 2011

The U.S. Attorneys Office Southern District of Texas on July 20, 2011 released the following:

“LAREDO, Texas – A federal jury has convicted a Chicago resident of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The jury returned its verdicts late yesterday afternoon.

United States District Court Judge George P. Kazen, who presided over the trial, accepted the verdicts convicting Hugo Cruz, 29, of Chicago, Ill. The court has ordered a presentence investigation report and will set sentencing upon completion of the report. Cruz faces a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a $1 million fine.

During trial, the jury heard testimony from Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, who described the events of June 28, 2010. On that date, during an inspection of a 1997 Econoline van being driven by Marco Antonio Toledo at the Lincoln Juarez Bridge, CBP officers recovered 37 bundles of marijuana hidden in the side panels of the vehicle. Toledo was arrested, charged and has been subsequently convicted by guilty plea of possession with intent to distribute the marijuana and sentenced to 24 months in federal prison without parole. As a result of the continued ICE-HSI investigation, agents learned that the marijuana was obtained in Guadalajara, Mexico, and bound for Chicago and Cruz.

The defense attempted to convince the jury that Cruz had merely ridden as a passenger with Toledo to Mexico to see his sick father because he was short on money and had flown back to Chicago after Toledo had left to return to the United States. However, through testimony of a variety of witnesses including business personnel and records, the government proved that Cruz had supplied the van with the hidden compartments to Toledo, promised Toledo $10,000 for transporting the contraband from Mexico to Chicago, traveled to Mexico with Toledo, arranged for and supervised the loading of the van with the contraband and sent Toledo back to the United States alone. Witnesses also testified that Cruz transferred the title to the van from his father’s name to Toledo’s name while in Chicago and arranged for and paid for American and Mexican Insurance for the vehicle. Six days later, on June 21, Cruz picked up Toledo at his residence in the van and they traveled together to the border and into Mexico. Through receipts, the government proved that Cruz paid for everything along the way and, while in Mexico, arranged for Toledo to receive 700 pesos for expenses. Cruz flew back to Chicago four days later.

The jury returned its guilty verdicts after approximately one and a half hours of deliberation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jim Hepburn and Roel Canales are prosecuting the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 20 Members of Bronx Criminal Organization with Drug Trafficking, Firearms, and Money Laundering Offenses

July 13, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York on July 13, 2011 released the following press release:

“PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), today announced charges against 20 individuals for drug trafficking, firearms, and money laundering offenses allegedly committed in connection with the operation of a criminal organization in the Bronx, New York. The following individuals were arrested today in the Bronx: LEVIT FERNANDINI, LUIS APONTE, ALBERT FRANCO, JAMES RIVERA, JULIO GOMEZ, LUIS ORTIZ, WILLIAM ROSA, and LUCY ROMERO. CHRISTOPHER ALICEA, DANIEL ROMAN, and EFRAIN IRIZARRY were arrested today in Puerto Rico. HECTOR GARCIA, RAFAEL REYES and JOSE LUIS MORAN were already in custody on related charges, and PABLO IVAN SANTIAGO, OMAR CASTRO LOPEZ, MAURICIO VILLAREAL, FNU LNU aka “Jesse,” ANTHONY TORRES, and ELIAS POLANCO remain at large. Today’s charges are the culmination of a year-long law enforcement operation led by the FBI and NYPD.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “Over the past five years, these defendants allegedly built a drug empire in the Bronx, using guns and violence to protect their operation and terrorize a neighborhood. With today’s charges, we are taking an important step forward in dismantling this criminal operation and cleaning up the streets, so neighborhood residents and can live in peace instead of fear.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge JANICE K. FEDARCYK said: “Today’s arrests are the latest phase in an on-going campaign to restore Bronx neighborhoods to their law-abiding residents. No matter where you live in this city, you have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of your home. Criminal enterprises like this one invariably resort to guns and violence to conduct their illicit business. The FBI and our partners remain committed to policing drug enterprises, which peddle poison and degrade our neighborhoods.”

NYPD Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY said: “Operating within a block of a K through 5 elementary school in the Bronx, these individuals sold cocaine and marijuana and used guns and violence to further their illegal drug trade. I commend the NYPD detectives, federal agents and U.S. Attorney’s Office for removing these violent drug dealers from our streets.”

According to the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

For at least five years, the defendants operated a retail narcotics distribution ring in the vicinity of Creston Avenue in the Bronx, New York. During that time, the organization was responsible for the distribution of more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. As part of the conspiracy, some members of the organization carried and discharged firearms to protect the group’s narcotics territory, while others laundered the organization’s narcotics proceeds.

Federal and local law enforcement officers executed court-authorized search warrants today on five locations tied to many of the named defendants. During the arrests and searches, agents and officers seized, among other evidence: three firearms, ammunition, a police scanner, pounds of marijuana, marijuana growing equipment, cocaine, scales, packaging materials, cutting agents, and tens of thousands of dollars in United States Currency.

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge PAUL A. CROTTY. A chart setting forth the charges in the Indictment and the applicable penalties is attached.

Mr. BHARARA thanked the FBI, the NYPD, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) for their outstanding work in this case. He also thanked the IRS Criminal Investigation Division for their assistance in the investigation.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys JESSICA A. MASELLA and TELEMACHUS P. KASULIS are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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