45 Indicted in Major DEA-Led Investigations of Alleged Drug Trafficking Operations at San Juan International Airport

June 6, 2012

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on June 6, 2012 released the following:

“–Multi-Ton Quantities of Cocaine Shipped Aboard American Airlines Commercial Aircraft Destined for Continental United States–

June 6 (San Juan, PR) – On May 31, a federal grand jury indicted 25 individuals as a result of an investigation lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

The defendants are charged in a 16 count indictment with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in narcotics distribution and criminal acts principally out of the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The leader of the organization is Maribel Rodríguez-Fragoso, aka “La Flaca.”

The indictment alleges that in or around 2010 until May 2012, members of the enterprise and their associates carried kilograms of cocaine in backpack/bags, or hidden on their person, or driving official work vehicles into the Airport through the employees secured entrance. Once in the secured area, they would transfer the kilograms of cocaine to couriers inside of a designated restroom, who would then board flights departing to the continental United States.

It is further alleged that members of the enterprise transported large sums of drug proceeds in the form of U.S. currency from the continental United States to Puerto Rico. Some of the drug proceeds were used to purchase items, such as vehicles, which were regularly used to further the enterprise.

DEA Deputy Administrator Thomas M. Harrigan today said, “Americans have a right to expect the highest integrity from those they entrust with their safety, and DEA is committed to protecting that trust. Today’s arrests at one of the nation’s busiest airports reflect our relentless commitment to working with our partners to aggressively fight drug trafficking, not only at our nation’s points of entry, but at source, transit, and arrival zones throughout the world.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian Kidd, Sean Torriente and Justin Martin from the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. This unit operates under the Narcotics Unit, and it is supervised by the Chief of the Narcotics Unit, AUSA Timothy Henwood. This unit is yet another component of our new initiative against violent crime and illegal firearms.

A second indictment unsealed today charges 20 individuals for aiding and abetting each other, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 9000 kilograms of cocaine, aboard American Airlines commercial aircrafts. At times pertinent to this indictment, convict Wilfredo Rodríguez-Rosado, aka “Mogoyo” recruited and organized a group of individuals to package, transport and deliver suitcases loaded with kilograms of cocaine to the American Airlines cargo area at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport. Moreover, he recruited and organized a group of American Airlines employees to ensure that those suitcases were smuggled into American Airlines aircrafts destined to Miami and Orlando, Florida and Newark, NJ.

The case was investigated by the DEA, the PRPD, and the FBI, with the collaboration of the San Juan Municipal Police, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Olga Castellón, Mariana Bauzá and Maritza González.

“The defendants in this investigation not only utilized their positions and security access to smuggle large quantities of illegal narcotics, but they also compromised the safety and security at one of the Caribbean’s most vital airports,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Caribbean Division, Pedro Janer. “DEA will continue to dismantle these organizations that think they can blatantly use legitimate entities to carry out their smuggling operations.”

“The United States Attorney’s Office, along with our state and federal law enforcement counterparts, will continue investigating and prosecuting drug trafficking organizations which use our island as a trans-shipment point for drugs to the U.S. mainland. The use of commercial aircraft to smuggle narcotics in and out of Puerto Rico, also creates a serious threat to our national security,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

The defendants in both cases are facing a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years up to life. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The DEA Caribbean Division would also like to extend its gratitude to the DEA Divisions in New York, Miami, Newark and Dallas for their incredible support and assistance.”

————————————————————–

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

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 and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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.


James “Whitey” Bulger and Catherine Greig Arrested in California by the FBI

June 23, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on June 23, 2011 released the following:

“By BRIAN MELLEY and GREG RISLING
Associated Press

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger was captured near Los Angeles 16 years after his run from the law sparked an international manhunt and served as a major embarrassment to the FBI as their onetime informant eluded authorities.

The FBI finally caught the 81-year-old Bulger at a residence in Santa Monica along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig on Wednesday, just days after the government launched a publicity campaign to locate the fugitive mobster, said Steven Martinez, FBI’s assistant director in charge in Los Angeles. The arrest was based on a tip from the campaign, he said.

Bulger, who was an inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed,” is wanted for his alleged role in 19 murders. One victim was shot between the eyes in a parking lot at his country club in Oklahoma. Another was gunned down in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from talking about the killing in Oklahoma. Others were taken out for running afoul of Bulger’s gambling enterprises.

“He left a trail of bodies,” said Tom Duffy, a retired state police major who was one of the lead investigators in the criminal case against Bulger. “You did not double-cross him. If you did, you were dead.”

Bulger provided information on a rival gang to the FBI, then fled in January 1995 when a former agent told him he was about to be indicted.

The FBI had been conducting surveillance in the area where Bulger was arrested, said police Sgt. Rudy Flores, who gave no details of the arrest. Agents swarmed around Bulger’s building late Wednesday, hours after the arrests in a neighborhood of two and three-story apartment buildings.

Bulger lived on the third floor of The Princess Eugenia, a three-story, 28-unit building of one and two-bedroom apartments three blocks from a bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Neighbors said the couple did not stand out.

Barbara Gluck, who lives on the same floor as Bulger and Greig, said she didn’t know their names but recognized them from photos on the Internet after she heard about their arrest.

Gluck described Greig as “sweet and lovely” and said they would have “girl talk” when they ran into each other in the building. Bulger became angry whenever he saw the two of them talking, and would say, “Stop talking to her,” Gluck said.

“He was nasty,” she added. “At one point, (Greig) said (Bulger) has a rage issue.”

Bulger and Greig were scheduled to appear in Los Angeles federal court Thursday. He faces a series of federal charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering, while the 60-year-old Greig is charged with harboring a fugitive.

The arrest brings an end to a manhunt that received worldwide attention as the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and Greig from all over the United States and parts of Europe. In many of those sightings, investigators could not confirm whether it was Bulger who was spotted or a lookalike.

The investigation touched the highest level of Massachusetts politics. Bulger’s younger brother, William, was one of the most powerful politicians in the state, leading the Massachusetts Senate for 17 years and later serving as president of the University of Massachusetts for seven years. He resigned his post in August 2003 amid pressure from then-Gov. Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas Reilly.

William Bulger told a congressional committee that he spoke to his brother shortly after he went on the run in 1995 but had no idea about his whereabouts.

He declined to comment to the Boston Globe about his brother’s arrest.

For many years, William Bulger was able to avoid any tarnish from his brother’s alleged crimes. But in August 2003, he resigned his post as president of UMass amid pressure from then-Gov. Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas Reilly.

Bulger, nicknamed “Whitey” for his shock of bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project, and went on to become Boston’s most notorious gangster.

Along with Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, he led the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area. U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern said in 2000 that the two were “responsible for a reign of intimidation and murder that spanned 25 years.”

Prosecutors said he went on the run after being warned by John Connolly Jr., an FBI agent in Boston who had made Bulger an informant 20 years earlier. Connolly was convicted of racketeering in May 2002 for protecting Bulger and Flemmi, also an FBI informant.

Bulger provided the Boston FBI with information on his gang’s main rival, the New England Mob, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was one of the FBI’s top national priorities.

But the Boston FBI office was sharply criticized when the extent of Bulger’s alleged crimes and his cozy relationship with the FBI became public in the late 1990s.

A congressional committee, in a draft report issued in 2003, blasted the FBI for its use of Bulger and other criminals as informants, calling it “one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement.”

After he fled, Bulger became one of the nation’s most-hunted fugitives. With a place next to Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, he had a $2 million reward on his head.

In September 2002, the FBI received the most reliable tip in three years when a British businessman who had met Bulger eight years earlier said he spotted Bulger on a London street.

After the sighting, the FBI’s multiagency violent fugitive task force in Boston and inspectors from New Scotland Yard scoured London hotels, Internet cafes and gyms in search of Bulger. The FBI also released an updated sketch, using the businessman’s description of Bulger as tan, white-haired and sporting a gray goatee.

On Monday, the FBI announced a new publicity campaign and accompanying public service ad that asked people, particularly women, to be on the lookout for Greig. The 30-second ad started running Tuesday in 14 television markets to which Bulger may have ties and was to air during programs popular with women roughly Greig’s age.

The new campaign pointed out that Greig had several plastic surgeries before going on the lam and was known to frequent beauty salons.

On Thursday, Bulger’s picture on the Ten Most Wanted list was spanned by a red banner that said “Captured.” Greig’s photo, with the same banner, was displayed prominently.

John Weiskopf, who lives across the street from Bulger’s Santa Monica building, said he recognized Bulger when he saw his photo on the Internet.

“I recognized him. I said `Holy Smokes,'” he said.

“From what I understand, these were really gracious easy-going people,” Weiskopf said. “They don’t come out with fangs, they just blended in.””

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.

Bookmark and Share