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Washington D.C.
Friday, May 17, 2024

42 Members of a Violent Gang Charged with Drug Trafficking and Firearms Violations in Manatí, Puerto Rico

The goal of HLM was to maintain control of all the drug trafficking activities within the Manatí area by the use of force, threats, violence and intimidation.

On September 20, 2023, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging 42 violent gang members from the municipality of Manatí with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession and distribution of controlled substances, and firearms violations, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. This investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB), Arecibo Strike Force, with the collaboration of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the U.S.  Marshals Service. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), CBP Air and Marine Operations, and the Barceloneta Police Department collaborated during the arrests.

“By arresting and prosecuting these defendants, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners are working to uphold the rule of law and punish violent offenders who terrorize our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “The Department of Justice is committed to dismantling criminal organizations, holding gang members accountable, and pursuing justice for victims.”

“For the last year, the residents in the Manatí area have been victims of violent crimes, going to bed and waking up to the sound of gunshots, tonight they will be able to rest,” said Rebecca González Ramos, Special Agent in Charge of HSI. “This organization is extremely violent; therefore this takedown included the activation of a total of 12 tactical teams and over 200 law enforcement officers from HSI San Juan and the U.S. Mainland along with federal, state, and local partners. This is a clear example of a multiagency collaboration; we were able to dismantle the new generation of a very violent drug trafficking organization that has been stealing the peace of these communities. Not anymore, HSI remains focused, determined, and steadfast to assure Puerto Rico’s public safety.”

The indictment alleges that from 2016, the drug trafficking organization called “Hasta los Marcian” (HLM) distributed heroin, fentanyl, cocaine base (commonly known as “crack”), cocaine, marihuana, Tramadol, and Clonazepam within 1,000 feet of the Enrique Zorrilla, Villa Evangelina, Vivamery, and Los Murales Public Housing Projects (PHPs), the Cerro Gandía Ward and the Morovis cemetery, all for significant financial gain and profit.

The goal of HLM was to maintain control of all the drug trafficking activities within the Manatí area by the use of force, threats, violence and intimidation. In preserving power and protecting territory, the members of HLM profited from the illegal distribution of narcotics including transportation and distribution of kilogram quantities of cocaine into the continental United States.

The investigation revealed that during the conspiracy the defendants and their co-conspirators participated in murders and shootings to further their drug trafficking operations. The defendants and their co-conspirators would sometimes use bullet proof vests to protect themselves when they participated in acts of violence. They modified firearms in order to convert them to automatic weapons (machineguns). On occasions, the co-conspirators legally purchased firearms and then sold them to members of the drug trafficking organization. Also, defendants and their co-conspirators would mail pieces of firearms or entire firearms from the continental United States to other members of the drug trafficking organization in Manatí.

The defendants acted in different roles to further the goals of the drug trafficking conspiracy, to wit: leaders, suppliers, drug point owners, enforcers, runners, sellers, lookouts, and facilitators. The members of the gang used force, violence, and intimidation to maintain control of the areas in which they operated. The defendants charged in the indictment are:

[1] Fabián López-Pino, a.k.a. “Fabi/Gordo/Panda”

[2] Michael Ángelo Reyes-Vázquez, a.k.a. “Chucky/Choky”

[3] Joshua Siragusa-Romero, a.k.a. “Tres Dobles”

[4] Alejandro Sáenz-Escobar, a.k.a. “Fresa/Fresita/Andito”

[5] Christopher Alberto Centeno-Marrero, a.k.a. “Chupy/Chupa Compras”

[6] Victor Cardoza, a.k.a. “Vitoy”

[7] Francisco Efrén Marín-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “Frank/F/El Viejo”

[8] Cesar Tyron Villegas–Cintrón

[9] Daniel Morla-Reyes, a.k.a. “Bebe/Bebe Murales/El Domi”

[10] Christopher Maldonado-López, a.k.a. “Gordo Flow”

[11] Christian Maldonado-López, a.k.a. “Ninja”

[12] José Israel Rivera-Morán, a.k.a. “Isratek/Isra”

[13] Christopher Pagán-Moux, a.k.a. “Zion”

[14] Carlos Jadriel Rivera-León, a.k.a. “Hulk/Carlitos Hulk”

[15] Jacier Collazo-Cruz

[16] Kenneth Noel Padilla-Martínez, a.k.a. “Dement/Demente”

[17] Jairo Luis Sánchez-Romero, a.k.a. “Grillo”

[18] Jonathan Yadriel Negrón-Quintero, a.k.a. “Wiwi”

[19] Adán David López-Quintero, a.k.a. “Chaco”

[20] Jadriel Yandel Bruno-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “Cuty”

[21] José Rafael Domínguez-Rivera, a.k.a. “Ojos Bellos”

[22] Bryan Joel Nieves-Romero, a.k.a. “Cabulla/Cabuya”

[23] Kelvin Joel Rivas-Quiñonez, a.k.a. “Piki/Rubio”

[24] Kenneth Córdova-Real, a.k.a. “Pope/Menor”

[25] Norma Iris Cintrón-Pino, a.k.a. “Normita”

[26] Ángel Javier Marrero-González, a.k.a. “Chacorta/Chacolta/Titi”

[27] William Omar Nieves-Maisonet, a.k.a. “Tito Llorón”

[28] Kevin Renier Marrero-Ocasio, a.k.a. “Coraje”

[29] Edsel Rodríguez-Ramírez, a.k.a. “La R/El Gordo/El Goldo”

[30] Miguel Ángel Ayala-De León, a.k.a. “Tonka”

[31] Jorge Luis Santiago-Robles, a.k.a. “El Mono/El Mono De Cerro Gandía”

[32] Jeremy Nael Rodríguez-Ortega, a.k.a. “Jordan”

[33] Shaquille Emmanuel Rivera-De Jesús

[34] Jonathan Montano-Menéndez, a.k.a. “Ata”

[35] Kelvin Luis Núñez-Otero, a.k.a. “Colilla”

[36] Manuel Ángel Jr. Torres-Pérez, a.k.a. “Manolo”

[37] María De Los Ángeles Candelario-Rosa, a.k.a. “María Pasillo”

[38] Victor David Santos-Medina, a.k.a. “Davisito”

[39] Richard Vázquez-Aponte, a.k.a. “BTA”

[40] Jorge Luis Rivera-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “El Mono/El Mono De Zorrillas”

[41] Isaías Daniel Lugo-Nazario, a.k.a. “Panda”

[42] John Anthony Sánchez-Valentín, a.k.a. “Joshua Pauta/Pauta”

Thirty-Three (33) defendants are facing one charge of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and fifteen (15) of those defendants are facing one count of possession of a machinegun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) and Chief of the Gang Section Alberto López-Rocafort; Deputy Chief of the Gang Section, AUSA Teresa Zapata-Valladares; AUSAs Corinne Cordero-Romo and Joseph Russell 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 in Count Six, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to life in prison. The defendants charged in Count Seven with possession of machineguns in furtherance of drug trafficking face a mandatory sentence of thirty years in prison to be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the drug trafficking charges. All defendants are facing a narcotics forfeiture allegation of $31,347,400.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Read more at the Justice Department

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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