Five Individuals Indicted on Organized Crime and Racketeering Charges First RICO Act Accusations in Puerto Rico Since the 1980s
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 24, 2011|
SAN JUAN, PR—Yesterday, a federal grand jury indicted five individuals as a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a 17-count indictment with: violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity, use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of a firearm with a prior conviction.
The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization which engaged in narcotics distribution and acts of violence, including murder, in Sabana Seca, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Between 1993 through October 2009, the defendants conducted the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity involving narcotics trafficking, murder, and attempted murder.
The indictment details 21 murders committed and/or ordered by defendant Alexis Candelario-Santana, aka “Congo.” Candelario-Santana is also the alleged mastermind of the massacre which occurred on October 17, 2009, in the business establishment known as “La Tómbola” in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, where eight people were killed and over 20 injured. Candelario-Santana was previously charged in a complaint for firearms violations and arrested on December 15, 2009.
The other defendants are: Carmelo Rondón-Feliciano, aka “Omi,” Christian López-Lebrón, Wilfredo Candelario-Santana, aka “Coper,” and David Oquendo-Rivas, aka “Gordo.” Oquendo-Rivas is charged in counts two through 14 with violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity, including the murder of eight people during the La Tómbola Massacre. All defendants are facing a RICO forfeiture allegation for at least $46,720,000.
“On December 2009, when Candelario-Santana was arrested, I stated that federal and state law enforcement agencies would continue working until charges could be brought against those responsible for La Tómbola Massacre, and we did,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “The individuals who committed these senseless murders will now be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
"This unspeakable crime must not be forgotten. We must honor the memory of the innocent victims of "La Tómbola" by bringing to justice all those who were responsible for the most violent attack ever carried out by ruthless thugs in the history of Puerto Rico," said Luis Fraticelli, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-San Juan Field Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney José Contreras.
If convicted, Candelario-Santana and Oquendo-Rivas could face the death penalty. The other three defendants face up to life imprisonment, with fines of up to $4 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.