56 Members Of A Violent Gang Charged With Drug Trafficking And Firearms Violations In San Juan, Carolina, And Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, P.R (STL.News) On March 23, 2021, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging 56 violent gang members from the municipalities of San Juan, Carolina and Trujillo Alto, with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and firearms violations, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB), San Juan and Carolina Strike Forces, and the United States Marshals Service investigated the case.
“This operation shows our resolve, along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, to continue working to protect the communities we serve from these deadly drugs and violence,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Operation 65 successfully removed members of an extremely violent drug organization from our streets and reflects the excellent collaboration between our federal and Puerto Rico law enforcement partners – coordinated through our HIDTA and OCDETF task force programs.”
“The members of “65 Inc.,” as this criminal organization was known, flooded San Juan, Carolina and Trujillo Alto neighborhoods with gun violence and drugs. Many lives in those communities have been irreparably damaged as a result of their violent criminal activity,” said Robert Cekada, Special Agent in Charge of ATF Miami Field Division. “During the course of the investigation, ATF, the USMS, PRPB, Carolina PD, and San Juan PD worked relentlessly to investigate 65 Inc. leaders and other key members of the organization. Also, Guaynabo PD, Bayamón PD, and San Juan PD assisted during the arrests.”
“The United States Marshals Service will continue working with the United States Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and all other agencies in conducting these enforcement operations to fight crime,” said Wilmer Ocasio Ibarra, US Marshal. “Today, I commend our Deputies and Task Force Officers for the excellent job they have done and continue to do every day in order to make our streets and communities safer.”
The indictment alleges that from 2015 to the date of the return of the indictment, the drug trafficking organization distributed cocaine base (commonly known as “crack”), heroin, cocaine, marihuana, Oxycodone (Percocet), and Alprazolam (Xanax) within 1,000 feet of the Jardines del Paraíso, Jardines de Monte Hatillo, Las Dalias, Monte Park, Jardines de Campo Rico, San Martín, Jardines de Country Club, Ernesto Ramos Antonini, La Esmeralda, and Nuestra Señora de Covadonga Public Housing Projects, Los Claveles Condominium, and Buen Consejo Ward. The object of the conspiracy was the large-scale distribution of controlled substances and to possess and distribute kilogram quantities of controlled substances, mainly cocaine, in Puerto Rico, for further distribution in the continental United States.
In or around August 2015, new leadership among the street gangs emerged and gained control of most of the housing projects and wards within specific areas of San Juan, Carolina and Trujillo Alto. Members of this new gang identified themselves as 65 INC. or 65. Their goal was to take over and maintain control of all the drug trafficking activities within specific areas in the mentioned municipalities through the use of force, threats, intimidation and violence. Some members of 65 INC. transported and distributed kilogram quantities of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the continental United States.
During the course of the investigation, over 100 weapons were seized either directly from members of the drug trafficking organization or recovered by the Puerto Rico Police Bureau and ATF in areas controlled by the organization. Twenty-seven of the weapons recovered had been converted into machineguns.
Members of the organization had illegal connections to obtain weapons of different makes, models and calibers, including high powered rifles like AK-47 and AR-15 type pistols. They also had individuals who had the knowledge to modify firearms to convert them into fully automatic machineguns. They were also able to obtain high capacity magazines capable of accepting up to 30 rounds of ammunition at a time, and drum magazines capable of accepting up to 50 rounds of ammunition at a time, all of which were used by members of the organization. These types of magazines were also recovered by the PRPB and ATF during the investigation.
Members of the organization displayed their power and association with each other in the street by brandishing and at times firing weapons into the air, both at night and in broad daylight. Weapons would be brandished in public spaces, such as bars, pubs, common areas of the housing projects and wards they controlled, and outside areas of rival housing projects and wards. Some of the members of the conspiracy would drive around firing their weapons from moving vehicles in areas known to be controlled by rival gangs and in broad daylight on public roads and bridges, such as the Teodoro Moscoso bridge.
The organization’s control over drug trafficking stretched beyond Puerto Rico. Some of the members were involved in multi-kilogram distribution of cocaine to several states in the United States. They used other co-conspirators who traveled to the continental United States as mules with the cocaine. The mules would travel at times with up to 10 kilos each. The proceeds of the sale of those kilos was then transported back to Puerto Rico to the drug trafficking organization.
As part of the conspiracy, the members acted in different roles to further the goals of the conspiracy, including acting as leaders, drug point owners, runners, suppliers, enforcers, drug processors, sellers, and facilitators. The leaders and drug point owners routinely authorized and instructed other co-conspirators to provide free samples of narcotics to customers to promote the sales of a specific brand of drug. The defendants had access to cars, motorcycles, and scooters which they used to transport money, narcotics, and firearms.
The members of the gang used force, violence, and intimidation to maintain control of the areas in which they operated. They often abducted and assaulted rival drug traffickers as well as members of their own drug trafficking organization to intimidate and maintain control of the drug trafficking. Thirty-two defendants are facing one charge of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. They are:
Joseph E. Pérez-González, a/k/a “Peca/Stripper”
Shelby J. Pérez-Cora, a/k/a “White Bear/Shelby”
Joseph Marte-Rodríguez, a/k/a “Mato/Matagato”
Miguel A. Arroyo-Andújar, a/k/a “Mawi/Mawiton”
Julio Rodríguez-Febres, a/k/a “Julito/Pai/Líder”
Iron Lee Jorge Colón, a/k/a “Iron/Doble/Doble A”
Jean C. Torres-Meléndez, a/k/a “Yankee/30”
Jorge A. Sánchez-Arizmendi, a/k/a “Georgi/Rubia/OG Black”
Milton Caliel Rodríguez/Medero, a/k/a “Cali”
Héctor Deejay Vega-Collazo, a/k/a “DJ/Dinero”
José Navedo-Ramos, a/k/a “Joshuany/Joshy”
Juan A. Martínez- Martínez, a/k/a “Juancho/Juanchi”
Vicyael Hernández-Díaz, a/k/a “Menor/Vicia/Vic”
Edgar R. López-Pellot, a/k/a “Johnny/Joni”
David Escribano-López, a/k/a “Lobo”
Victor Guadalupe-Gómez, a/k/a “Vitito”
Pedro R. Oquendo-Arrufat, a/k/a “Chuky”
Juan C. Rivera-Esquilín, a/k/a “Cano/C”
Joel Rivera-Molina, a/k/a “Barber”
Camilo Pérez-Marquez, a/k/a “El Boxeador”
Lennyn Santiago-Hernández, a/k/a “Lenny”
Tony R. López-Torres, a/k/a “Sombra”
Francisco Bonilla-García, a/k/a “Cholin”
Ricardo A. Arias-Rivera, a/k/a “Ricky R/Casco/Ricky/Cholón/Jirafa”
John M. Dávila-Martínez, a/k/a “Moña”
Alfred Baliester-Colón, a/k/a “Tuto”
Heriberto Torres-Díaz, a/k/a “Yerno”
Luis E. Díaz-Peguero
Héctor Cuba-Ortiz, a/k/a “Cuba”
Raymond Pizarro-Quintero, a/k/a “Memo”
Francisco Maracayo-Correa, a/k/a “Los Maracayo”
The other defendants are:
Raúl Torres-Santana, a/k/a “Manota
Shaquille Lugo-Nuñez, a/k/a “Lindo”
Bryan Hernández-López, a/k/a “Sweepy/Swepy”
Luis E. Guzmán-González, a/k/a “Chito/Cheeto”
Michael Román-Amador, a/k/a “Huevo/Pipi”
José Robles-Feliciano, a/k/a “Nervio”
Johan J. Rosales-Medero, a/k/a “Johancito”
Terix Zabala-González, a/k/a “Terix/Teri”
Willys J. Torres- González, a/k/a “Hershey”
Chawil Campusano-Vázquez, a/k/a “Chawi/Chewi/Chegüi”
Evaris Naomi García-Camacho
Jouseph Bermúdez-Matos, a/k/a “Kobe”
Anthony Figueroa-Valladares, a/k/a “Farru/Farruko”
Rayden Oneill-Díaz, a/k/a “R/J/Raiden”
Eduardo Benítez-Meléndez, a/k/a “Yambele”
Carlos R. Miró-Pagán, a/k/a “Farru”
Victor Maracayo-Correa, a/k/a “Maca/Los Maracayo/M”
Alexander Schroeder-Montañez, a/k/a “Blanquito”
Noah Martínez, a/k/a “Gringo”
Benjamín Rivera-Castro, a/k/a “Benji”
Roberto Ramos-Carrasquillo, a/k/a “Popi”
Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Gang Section Alberto López-Rocafort, Deputy Chief of the Gang Section, AUSA Tereza Zapata-Valladares, and AUSA Pedro Casablanca are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted on the drug charges, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life in prison. If convicted of both the drug and firearms charges, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.