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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Five Indicted For Moving Coke And Money Between NY And PR

U.S. Attorney's Office

San Juan

Press Release

August 24, 2016

SAN JUAN, PR – This morning, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement
Task Force (OCEDTF) dismantled a drug trafficking organization responsi-
ble for the transportation of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and drug
money between Puerto Rico and the Continental United States, announced
United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The Drug Enforce-
ment Administration (DEA) is in charge of the investigation with the colla-
boration of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security In-
vestigations (ICE-HSI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives (ATF), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

On August 23, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment
charging five individuals with participating in a conspiracy to possess with
intent to distribute cocaine between the year 2009 through December 2013.
The defendants are: José G. Herrera-Olavarría, a.k.a. “Pito”; Richard Rodrí-
guez-Heredia; Luis Rodolfo Mejía, a.k.a. “Tripa”; Emilio J. González-Espi-
nal, a.k.a. “Buster”; and Cessy Martínez-Lantigua, wife of Herrera-Olavarría.

The investigation leading to today’s arrests uncovered that members of this
organization traveled on commercial flights that departed from the Luis Mu-
ñoz Marín International Airport (LMMIA) to the continental United States
with kilograms of cocaine concealed inside suitcases. According to the indic-
tment, the defendants and co-conspirators also mailed controlled substances
to the continental United States.

The indictment alleges that the defendants sold the controlled substances in
the continental United States and would have the profits from the sales sent
back to Puerto Rico.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney José A.

If found guilty, the defendants are facing terms of imprisonment from 10 years
to life. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A def-
endant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case was investigated by agents from the Organized Crime Drug Enforce-
ment Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug tra-
fficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quanti-
ties of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distri-
bution to the United States. The initiative is composed of DEA, HSI, FBI, US
Coast Guard, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and PRPD's
Joint Forces for Rapid Action.

The Airport Investigations and Tactical Team (AirTAT) operates in the District
of Puerto Rico as an OCDEFT strategic initiative that is part of the National Air-
port Initiative. It is a multi-agency, co-located task force that includes DEA, HSI,
FBI, USPIS, CBP - Office of Field Operations, and ATF. AirTAT also works clo-
sely with the Police of Puerto Rico. AirTAT’s mission is to identify, locate, disr-
upt, dismantle, and prosecute TCOs and their operatives using the Luis Muñoz
Marín International Airport (LMMIA), the Fernando Luis Rivas Dominicci Air-
port (FLRDA), and airport peripherals as platforms to smuggle narcotics, weap-
ons, human cargo, counterfeit documents, illicit proceeds, and other contraband
through these critical airport infrastructures.

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