Thirty-Two Individuals Indicted in Puerto Rico for Allegedly Violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 28, 2012 released the following:

“SAN JUAN—A federal grand jury has indicted 32 individuals as a result of an investigation by the FBI and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), with the collaboration of the San Juan Puerto Rico, Municipal Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced today. The 36-count indictment, unsealed today, was brought on March 20, 2012. The defendants are charged with, among other things, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity (VICAR), use of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of firearms by prohibited persons.

The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization that engaged in narcotics distribution and committed acts of violence, including murder, in San Juan. Since 2004, the defendants conducted the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity involving narcotics trafficking, murder, and attempted murder.

The indictment alleges that in or around 2004, the leaders of nearly all the drug gangs operating in the San Juan area formed an alliance. This alliance would help them resolve conflicts between the previously rival drug gangs in a way that would not bring about the attention of local and federal authorities, thus ensuring increased profits from drug sales for all and reducing the risk of federal charges. The leaders agreed that if conflicts arose between members of the alliance, the leaders from the different housing projects would discuss the issues with each other in order to resolve the same without violence. The leaders named the alliance “La ONU,” which stands for La Organización de Narcotraficantes Unidos (United Drug Traffickers Organization).

It is further alleged that the alliance initially worked but weakened over time. Several housing project gangs became disgruntled with La ONU and sought to break away from the organization. After several conflicts, La ONU broke into two separate rival factions, La ONU and La Rompe ONU. The housing project gangs were essentially split evenly between those belonging to La ONU and La Rompe.

From the time of the split, the goal of La ONU was to maintain control through the use of force over the drug points in their members’ housing projects and to kill La Rompe members and leaders in order to expand. Members of La ONU who committed murders and other violent acts were given benefits, including weapons, money, and the ability to advance within the criminal enterprise. Though unwritten, the general rules followed by members of La ONU included, but were not limited to: no associating with La Rompe members; kill La Rompe members on sight; no killing of other members of La ONU without leadership authorization; no overtaking housing projects/drug points owned by other members of La ONU; and no cooperating with law enforcement. Any violation of these rules was punishable by death of the violator and/or his/her family members.

The indictment details eight murders, three attempted murders, and one shooting directed toward Puerto Rico police officers, all committed by members of La ONU. These acts are as follows:

  • On or about November 12, 2007, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro, aka “Jincho,” “Jeanji,” “Jan,” or “Casper”; Ramón Lanza-Vázquez, aka “Ramoncito”; and Antonio Pérez-Medina, aka “Choco,” shot and killed Orlando Medina-Serrano.
  • On or about February 19, 2009, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo, aka “Danny KX” or “Danny Vorki”; and José Abel Ramos-Cruz, aka “Paleta” or “Tito Paleta,” killed Ángel González-Villanueva, aka “Chaple.”
  • On or about January 5, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo; Wesley Figueroa-Cancel, aka “Hueso”; José Abel Ramos-Cruz; Luis Joel Rosario-Santiago, aka “Triple-H” or “Luis Jo”; Carlos H. O’neill-Santiago, aka “Ken-Y”; Christian Figueroa-Viera, aka “Coqueto”; and others killed Luis Antonio De-Jesús-Pérez.
  • On or about April 2, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro, Wesley Figueroa-Cancel, and others shot at and fled from Puerto Rico police officers.
  • On or about April 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Jorge E. Asencio-Viera, aka “Macar”; Victor Santana-González, aka “Run Run” or “Pequeño”; Pedro Juan Ramírez-Medina, aka “Peter John” or “Johnson”; Carlos Meléndez-Serrano; and others shot and killed Victor Vega-Ortega, aka “Victor El Nazi.”
  • On or about May 4, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendant Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino, aka “Bernard,” shot into a patrolling police helicopter and killed Jesús Quiñones-Santiago and attempted to kill José Rivera-Quinoñes, Eduardo Alvelo-Meléndez and Shakira Vázquez-Nieves.
  • On or about July 7, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino; Wesley Figueroa-Cancel; Pedro Juan Ramírez-Medina, aka “Peter John” or “Johnson”; Luis Joel Rosario-Santiago; Carlos H. O’Neill-Santiago; Ángel L. García-Velásquez, aka “Wiwo”; and Mike Graciany-Febu, aka “Mikey”; and others shot and killed Puerto Rico Police Officer Blanca De Los Santos-Barbosa and Manuel Medina-Rivera.
  • On or about August 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo; Victor Santana-González; Ismael E. Cruz-Ramos, aka “Chapu”; Pedro L. Ramirez-Rivera, aka “Peter Pai”; José Laureano-Salgado, aka “Geo”; Emanuel Rodríguez Isaac, aka “Manuelito”; and others killed Christian Toledo-Sánchez, aka “Pekeke.” During the course of the murder, Luis Gallardo-Rivera, aka “El Tuerto,” was shot and killed by the rival drug gang.

The remainder of the defendants who are part of the organization and participated in its criminal acts include: FNU LNU, aka “Rosco” or “Diablo”; Luis Cordero-Cruz, aka “Chapi”; Roberto L. Aponte-Cordero, aka “Pichu”; Andrés Guerra-Santana, aka “El Negro” or “Pingy”; Teddy León-Ayala; Ángel D. Ramos-Cruz, aka “Api”; Luis Llanos-Skerett, aka “Jomo”; Miguel Feliciano-Boria, aka “Chupito”; Carlos Andino Matienzo, aka “Hoffman”; José Ismael Costoso-Ramos, aka “Magnolia”; FNU LNU, aka “Luigi”; and FNU LNU, aka “José Armero,” “José Niple,” or “El Mecánico.”

“Violent drug organizations whose members hold our community hostage through violence, intimidation, and fear should think twice about the consequences of their criminal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “The investigation which led to today’s arrests is the first ever RICO Act prosecution of its nature in the District of Puerto Rico. We will use all the tools at our disposal to take dangerous criminals off the streets of Puerto Rico until we break their grip on our communities and bring them to justice.”

“The FBI is committed to dismantling street gangs and criminal organizations, such as La ONU, who terrorize and put at risk the good people of our community with indiscriminate acts of violence. These combined and proactive law enforcement efforts are intended to aggressively target these threats and take back our streets,” said Joseph Campbell, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Kidd and Sean Torriente from the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. This unit operates under the Narcotics Unit and will exclusively handle drive-by shootings and other significant RICO and organized crime prosecutions. This unit will be initially staffed with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean Torriente, Brian Kidd, and Justin Martin and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alberto López Rocafort, from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, and will be supervised by the Chief of the Narcotics Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood. This unit is yet another component of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico’s initiative against violent crime and illegal firearms.

Twenty of the defendants are charged with capital eligible offenses. The other 12 defendants face up to life in prison. The defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of $10,000,000. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

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Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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

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