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

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 or at one of the offices listed above.

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