Twenty-Two Individuals Charged in Superseding Indictment for Drug Trafficking in the Municipality of Caguas
SAN JUAN, PR—On June 19, 2015, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a superseding indictment against 22 defendants charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of, controlled substances, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), Caguas Strike Force, are in charge of the investigation.
On August 7, 2013, federal and state authorities arrested 139 individuals from several areas in the municipality of Caguas. These individuals were charged in four separate indictments. Seventy-nine of those charged were part of a drug trafficking organization which operated in the Turabo Heights Public Housing Project. Today, law enforcement authorities executed 22 arrest warrants against the individuals who continued operating the drug points at Turabo Heights, after the arrests in 2013.
The superseding indictment charges 22 individuals for conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack), heroin, cocaine, marihuana, Oxycodone (commonly known as Percocet) and Alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax), all within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising the Turabo Heights Public Housing Project, a housing facility owned by a public housing authority, and other areas nearby and within the Municipality of Caguas, Puerto Rico.
During the span of the conspiracy, in order to be able to operate a drug point at Turabo Heights, “rent” would be paid to the leaders of the drug trafficking organization and their family members. As part of the manner and means of the conspiracy, control of the drug points at Turabo Heights was, obtained and maintained by the use of force, violence, and intimidation. The drug points operated twenty-four (24) hours a day in 3 shifts per day, including a “midnight marihuana” shift. Facilitators would act as intermediaries in drug sale transactions when clients opted not to enter the housing project.
The leader of the organization, José A. García-Cosme, aka “Papo Cachete” was arrested in August of 2013 during the first round of arrests involving this organization. During his absence from the Turabo Heights Public Housing Project, García-Cosme maintained control of the drug points through individuals and co-defendants directly designated by him. These individuals managed the daily activities of the drug points, the execution of the main leader’s orders, the collection of payments or “rent” from the different drug point owners, and the safe delivery of those payments or “rent” directly to the leader.
The superseding indictment also alleges that the co-conspirators had many roles in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: the leader, José A. García-Cosme, aka “Papo Cachete”; suppliers; enforcers; runners; sellers; and facilitators. Defendants Juan R. Matos-Vázquez, aka “Juan Cabezón;” Israel Arroyo-Serrano, aka “Pacho;” Alfredo Rivera-Flores, aka “Mamita;” and Raymond O. Díaz, aka “Ratón,” are also facing one charge of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The other defendants are: Ramón L. Massa-González, aka “Flaco;” Luz E. García-Cosme, aka “La Vieja;” Gabriel Arroyo-Serrano, aka “Gloty;” Carlos Andrés García-Cintrón, aka “Carlitos;” Luis Montañez-Matos, aka “Tío Baúl;” Ricardo Pastrana-Tollens, aka “Ricky;” Héctor I. Llorens-Ruiz, aka “Cuajo;” Julio Velázquez-Báez, aka “Mueca;” Israel Banks-Jiménez, aka “Cascarita;” Javier Colón-González, aka “Loquillo;” John Martir-Rosado, aka “Al Qaeda;” Xavier Martínez, aka “Manota;” Jessamine Román-Rosa, aka “Katty;” Christian Colón-Agosto, aka “Loco Hugo;” Miguel Benítez-Benítez, aka “Bebeto;” Raynaldo Vázquez-Centeno, aka “Shamu;” and Neftalí Gómez-Dones. The defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of forty-five million dollars.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alberto López-Rocafort and Teresa Zapata-Valladares are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 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.
The defendants were the targets of a long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDEFT) investigation. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.