Multi-State Takedown Targeting National Cocaine Trafficking Organization Leads to Charges Against 12 Individuals
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 13, 2013|
ATLANTA—Twelve members of a national cocaine trafficking organization have been charged in a large-scale investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation code-named Operation Holy Trap.
“Today’s takedown is another chapter in this office’s ongoing commitment to hold significant narco-traffickers to account and to dismantle their operations and infrastructure,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Our streets are safer with these serious offenders off them. The arrests also serve as a valuable reminder to those who might use their seemingly legitimate businesses to support narco-traffickers. You are not above the law. You will be prosecuted.”
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “While the import and distribution of dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin continue to be carried out by highly organized criminal enterprises covering large territories within the U.S., law enforcement continues to go after these groups in an equally organized manner as demonstrated by the David G. Wilhelm Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force [OCDETF] Strike Force, based in Atlanta. The FBI, as part of this federally led group of local, state, and other federal investigators and analytical staff, brings forward its expertise in helping dismantle these criminal enterprises and seizing their assets. The indictments and arrests resulting from Operation Holy Trap are a result of many months of hard work by this dedicated Strike Force and required much coordination with other law enforcement entities in other states. The cocaine distribution in this case was extensive, and the money generated by this group is an indicator as to how active and established this group was in the U.S. The fight to keep our communities safe from this corrosive criminal influence continues, and the FBI remains a committed and steadfast partner in this effort.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: For over 18 months, the FBI has been investigating a drug trafficking organization with ties to Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and Louisiana.
The organization is alleged to have been overseen by Edwin Rivera, a/k/a "Neno," a/k/a "Nano" (Rivera), a Boston-based drug dealer who used vehicles outfitted with hydraulic concealed compartment (or traps) to smuggle multiple kilograms of cocaine and hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout the United States. Rivera employed Hector Ramon DeJesus, who operated a seemingly legitimate auto shop in Atlanta, to install the traps in the load vehicles. Juan Manuel Santana Baez, a/k/a "Robin," worked with and for DeJesus in the trap business, including on vehicles used by Rivera.
Rivera is alleged to have used a syndicate of couriers to transport the organization’s drugs and drug proceeds, including Pedro Angel Morales, a/k/a "Tito"; Glenny Difo; Militza Negron; Jose Ramon Medina Bravo, a/k/a “Lynx"; Jose M. Vellon Rios, a/k/a Javier Luis R Mercado; Jennifer Medina; and Alex Jonathan Tejada Avelino, a/k/a “Jonathan.” Maximo Stiven Bernabel Pena, a/k/a “Pablo,” and Freddy Pena also were members of Rivera’s cocaine trafficking organization.
To date, investigators have seized over 70 kilograms of cocaine and approximately $1,000,000 in drug proceeds.
On July 9, 2013, a federal grand jury in Atlanta returned a five-count indictment charging the following individuals with various drug offenses, including conspiring to traffick over five kilograms of cocaine and substantive drug trafficking charges:
- Edwin Rivera, a/k/a “Neno,” a/k/a “Nano,” 43, of Hyde Park, Massachusetts
- Maximo Stiven Bernabel Pena, a/k/a “Pablo,” 23, of Roxbury, Massachusetts
- Juan Manuel Santana Baez, a/k/a “Robin,” 38, of Duluth, Georgia
- Glenny Difo, 37, of Orlando, Florida
- Militza Negron, 41, of Orlando, Florida
- Jose Ramon Medina Bravo, a/k/a “Lynx,” 28, of Tamarac, Florida
- Jose M. Vellon Rios, a/k/a Javier Luis R Mercado, 32, of Hazelton, Pennsylvania
- Jennifer Medina, 31, of Gretna, Louisiana
- Alex Jonathan Tejada Avelino, a/k/a “Jonathan,” 30, of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
- Freddy Pena, 24, of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
- Pedro Angel Morales, a/k/a “Tito,” 49, of Springfield, Massachusetts
In addition, a criminal complaint was issued against Hector Ramon DeJesus, 67, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, charging him with conspiring to traffic over five kilograms of cocaine.
On September 12, 2013, initial searches and arrests were conducted in connection with an unsealed indictment and criminal complaint. Federal, state, and local law enforcement officers fanned out across Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Orlando and Tamarac, Florida, to seek to arrest the charged defendants. The takedown, which is ongoing, so far has ensnared nine defendants. Over the next two days, initial appearances are scheduled to occur in this District, as well as in the Middle District of Florida and District of Massachusetts.
The investigation of the case was led by FBI agents from the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF-Atlanta Strike Force, which consists of federal, state, and local drug officers and focuses on dismantling international drug organizations operating in the United States. The investigation also included participation from the Strike Force members: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Marshals Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Lawrenceville Police, Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, Clayton County Police, and Barrow County Sheriff’s Office.
If convicted, the charged defendants face a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment, as well as fines of over $10 million dollars.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment and criminal compliant contain only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges, and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Scott Ferber and C. Brock Brockington are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.Pressemails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.