SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — On Sept. 20, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging 42 gang members from the municipality of Manati with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession and distribution of controlled substances and firearms violations. U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico W. Stephen Muldrow announced the indictment.

“For the last year, the residents in the Manati 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 Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Juan Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Gonzalez Ramos. “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 distributed heroin, fentanyl, cocaine base (commonly known as crack), cocaine, marijuana, Tramadol and Clonazepam within 1,000 feet of the Enrique Zorrilla, Villa Evangelina, Vivamery, and Los Murales Public Housing Projects, the Cerro Gandía Ward and the Morovis Cemetery — all for significant financial gain and profit.

Hasta los Marcian’s goal was to maintain control of all drug trafficking activities within the Manati area by using force, threats, violence and intimidation. In preserving power and protecting territory, Hasta los Marcian members 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 sometimes used bulletproof vests to protect themselves when they participated in acts of violence. They modified firearms to convert them to automatic weapons. On some occasions, the co-conspirators legally purchased firearms and then sold them to members of the drug trafficking organization. Also, defendants and their co-conspirators mailed pieces of firearms or entire firearms from the continental United States to other members of the drug trafficking organization in Manati.

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

The following defendants are charged in the indictment:

  1. Fabian Lopez-Pino aka Fabi, aka Gordo, aka Panda
  2. Michael Angelo Reyes-Vazquez aka Chucky, aka Choky
  3. Joshua Siragusa-Romero aka Tres Dobles
  4. Alejandro Saenz-Escobar aka Fresa, aka Fresita, aka Andito
  5. Christopher Alberto Centeno-Marrero aka Chupy, aka Chupa, aka Compras
  6. Victor Cardoza aka Vitoy
  7. Francisco Efren Marin-Rodriguez aka Frank, aka F, aka El Viejo
  8. Cesar Tyron Villegas–Cintron
  9. Daniel Morla-Reyes aka Bebe, aka Bebe Murales, aka El Domi
  10. Christopher Maldonado-Lopez aka Gordo Flow
  11. Christian Maldonado-Lopez aka Ninja
  12. Jose Israel Rivera-Moran aka Isratek, aka Isra
  13. Christopher Pagan-Moux aka Zion
  14. Carlos Jadriel Rivera-Leon aka Hulk, aka Carlitos Hulk
  15. Jacier Collazo-Cruz
  16. Kenneth Noel Padilla-Martinez aka Dement, aka Demente
  17. Jairo Luis Sanchez-Romero aka Grillo
  18. Jonathan Yadriel Negron-Quintero aka Wiwi
  19. Adan David Lopez-Quintero aka Chaco
  20. Jadriel Yandel Bruno-Rodriguez aka Cuty
  21. Jose Rafael Dominguez-Rivera aka Ojos Bellos
  22. Bryan Joel Nieves-Romero aka Cabulla, aka Cabuya
  23. Kelvin Joel Rivas-Quinonez aka Piki, aka Rubio
  24. Kenneth Cordova-Real aka Pope, aka Menor
  25. Norma Iris Cintron-Pino aka Normita
  26. Angel Javier Marrero-Gonzalez aka Chacorta, aka Chacolta, aka Titi
  27. William Omar Nieves-Maisonet aka Tito Lloron
  28. Kevin Renier Marrero-Ocasio aka Coraje
  29. Edsel Rodriguez-Ramirez aka La R, aka El Gordo, aka El Goldo
  30. Miguel Angel Ayala-De Leon aka Tonka
  31. Jorge Luis Santiago-Robles aka El Mono, aka El Mono De Cerro Gandia
  32. Jeremy Nael Rodriguez-Ortega aka Jordan
  33. Shaquille Emmanuel Rivera-De Jesus
  34. Jonathan Montano-Menendez aka Ata
  35. Kelvin Luis Nunez-Otero aka Colilla
  36. Manuel Angel Jr. Torres-Perez aka Manolo
  37. Maria De Los Angeles Candelario-Rosa aka Maria Pasillo
  38. Victor David Santos-Medina aka Davisito
  39. Richard Vazquez-Aponte aka BTA
  40. Jorge Luis Rivera-Rodriguez aka El Mono, aka El Mono De Zorrillas
  41. Isaias Daniel Lugo-Nazario aka Panda
  42. John Anthony Sanchez-Valentin aka Joshua Pauta, aka Pauta

Thirty-three defendants face one charge of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and 15 are facing one count of possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

If convicted on the drug charges, the defendants face minimum sentences of 10 years and up to life in prison. If convicted of both the drug and firearms charges in Count Six of the indictment, the defendants face minimum sentences of 15 years and up to life in prison. The defendants charged in Count Seven with possession of machine guns in furtherance of drug trafficking face a mandatory sentence of 30 years in prison to be served consecutively with any sentence imposed for the drug trafficking charges.

All defendants face a narcotics forfeiture allegation of $31,347,400.

HSI and the Puerto Rico Police Bureau Arecibo Strike Force investigated the case with collaboration from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. The FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), CBP Air and Marine Operations, and the Barceloneta Police Department collaborated during the arrests.

Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Gang Section Alberto Lopez-Rocafort, Deputy Chief of the Gang Section Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa Zapata-Valladares, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Corinne Cordero-Romo and Joseph Russell are in charge of prosecuting the case.

“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 Muldrow. “The Department of Justice is committed to dismantling criminal organizations, holding gang members accountable, and pursuing justice for victims.”

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, multiagency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.