#AceNewsReport – June.09: Investigators from of the Drug Enforcement Administration St. Louis Division uncovered a cocaine, heroin and fentanyl distribution organization transporting kilogram quantities of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl from Mexico, through Texas and Florida, to the St. Louis metropolitan area. The higher echelon of the conspiracy served federal prison sentences for prior controlled substance violations in the Federal Correction Institution in Florence, Colo., beginning in the late 2000s.
Press Release DEA Report: U.S. District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig sentenced David M. Foston to 125 months in prison to 10+ Years for Trafficking Cocaine
Foston was indicted with 14 others in St. Louis in May 2019 for conspiring to distribute more than 25 kilograms of cocaine, 10 kilograms of heroin, and three kilograms of fentanyl. Throughout the investigation, law enforcement seized more than $2,036,981 from drug payments and profits, luxury jewelry and vehicles.
Throughout 2018: Foston and his co-conspirators utilized drug couriers and vehicles with concealed compartments to ship multi-kilogram amounts of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl to a residence in Spanish Lake, Mo., from Houston and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Foston and his co-conspirators unloaded the drugs at the residence and distributed them throughout the St. Louis area. The proceeds from the sale of those controlled substances were stored at residences in St. Louis City and County and loaded into the concealed compartments of vehicles for transportation back to Texas and Florida:
On March 17, 2018: DEA special agents and task force officers located and seized $1,304,804.00 in drug payments from the St. Louis-based distributors in Phelps County, Mo., as a courier was traveling back to drug suppliers in Texas. On April 20, 2018, the DEA intercepted a courier in possession of 25 kilograms of cocaine destined for the St. Louis drug distributors. In July 2018, investigators seized three kilograms of fentanyl and $263,000 in drug payments from a courier’s vehicle in Oklahoma. On September 8, 2018, investigators searched the Spanish Lake residence and seized 10 kilograms of heroin:
In October 2018: St. Louis-based distributors attempted to purchase $385,000 worth of cocaine during a sting operation in a suburb of Houston. DEA investigators intercepted the courier and seized the money belonging to the other St. Louis-based distributors. The currency was to be a partial payment for 25 kilograms of cocaine, which the organization intended to distribute:
This case was investigated by DEA investigators in St. Louis, Houston, Fort Lauderdale and Detroit, as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, the St. Charles County, Mo., Police Department, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Bridgeton, Mo., Police Department, Phelps County Sherriff’s Department and Cleveland, Texas, Police Department.
#AceNewsReport – May.23: Anthony Martinez, 40, of La Habra, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald. Martinez pleaded guilty on January 15, to one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Martinez is one of eight defendants charged in an indictment alleging a conspiracy to traffic cocaine throughout Southern California:
ICE Report: Orange County man who led police on high-speed chase with 75 pounds of cocaine in his car sentenced to 15½ years in federal prison following HSI probe:
On July 25, 2019, in Whittier, Martinez received two boxes from a co-defendant that contained 75.2 pounds (34.1 kilograms) of cocaine, placed the boxes in his car and drove off’
When Whittier Police officers attempted to pull Martinez over, he initially pulled over, then sped away, refusing to stop, and led police on a car chase in which Martinez veered into oncoming traffic and drove on the wrong side of the road, the plea agreement states.
“In so doing, [Martinez] recklessly created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to individuals in the community and law enforcement by fleeing from officers,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.
When police finally pulled Martinez over for good in Fullerton, they discovered the box of cocaine.
Martinez also possessed 132.6 pounds (60.2 kilograms) of cocaine, separately wrapped in one kilogram “bricks” located in a storage locker, and 52.9 pounds (23.98 kilograms) of cocaine located inside a duffel bag.
In total, Martinez admitted to possessing 260.6 pounds (118.2 kilograms) of cocaine.
This case’s lead defendant, Jesus Manuel Landeros-Cisneros, 51, of Covina, pleaded guilty in August 2020, to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He is serving a 174-month federal prison sentence for that offense.
Three other defendants in the case – Ryan Alexander Fischer, 23, a.k.a. “Flaco,” of Covina; Manuel Angel Landeros-Lopez, 43, of Covina; David Elgrably, 51, of Suisun City, California – are scheduled to go on trial on July 27. Three defendants – Harnidhan Bhangu, 30; Harmanjot Singh, 29; and Gurpreet Chahal, 41; all Canadian nationals – are fugitives.
The investigation was conducted with the support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). As to these seizures, substantial assistance was provided by the South Gate Police Department, the Brea Police Department, and the West Covina Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Violent and Organized Crime Section.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.10: A convicted aggravated felon involved in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Salazar, was removed to Mexico on Wednesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
ICE/ERO Report: Remove convicted felon tied to 1985 murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena Salazar: ‘Juan Jose Bernabe Ramirez, 62, a Mexican citizen, was turned over to Mexican immigration officials on the international boundary at the Paso Del Norte Bridge in downtown El Paso, Texas. Bernabe is considered a threat to public safety due to his criminal convictions’
On July 20, 1989, Bernabe was admitted into the United States as a non-immigrant visitor in Los Angeles for up to six months. On July 27, 1989, DEA agents arrested him for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Special Agent Camarena. Bernabe was convicted on July 30, 1990, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, for violent crimes in aid of racketeering aiding and abetting and accessory after the fact. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for each charge. Additionally, on the same date, he was convicted of kidnapping a federal agent aiding and abetting and sentenced to life in prison.
“Our ERO officers, especially those working closely with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, stand ready to assist our law enforcement partners 24 hours a day,” said Denice Seemiller, acting field office director for ERO Salt Lake City. “The gruesome nature of this case is extremely unsettling. Our dedicated officers diligently worked on making all the necessary arrangements to ensure Bernabe’s removal was seamless. His arrest and removal from the United States sends a clear message that we will not tolerate heinous criminals being released into our communities.”
On Jan. 13, 1992, officers with the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Kansas City, Missouri, encountered Bernabe at the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kansas, and determined him to be in violation of his non-immigrant visitor status. As a result, the officers issued an immigration detainer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
On Sept. 9, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, granted Bernabe’s motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence. On Dec. 17, the Court accepted his plea of guilty to accessory after the fact and conspiracy to commit, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and sentenced Bernabe to time served. The next day, the BOP transferred him to the custody of ERO Salt Lake City pursuant to the immigration detainer lodged on Jan. 13, 1992.
On Dec. 23, ERO Salt Lake City issued and served Bernabe a Notice of Intent to Issue Final Administrative Removal Order, and Final Administrative Removal Order because he was convicted of an aggravated felony.
ICE is charged with enforcing federal immigration laws enacted by Congress. ICE officers are sworn law enforcement officers who carry out the arrest, detention and removal of individuals found to be in the United States unlawfully.
ICE lodges immigration detainers on individuals, such as Bernabe, who have been arrested on criminal charges and who are suspected of being amenable to removal, so that ICE can take custody of them after they’ve completed their sentences.
ICE is now implementing the interim civil immigration enforcement priorities directed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus its limited resources on threats to national security, border security and public safety. ICE continues to carry out its duty to enforce the laws of the United States in accordance with the Department’s national security and public safety mission.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.31: HERNÁNDEZ is a former Honduran congressman and the brother of Juan Orlando Hernández, the current president of Honduras. HERNÁNDEZ was convicted on October 18, 2019, following a jury trial before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, who also imposed today’s sentence.
DEA REPORT: ‘Former Honduran Congressman Tony Hernández Sentenced for Distributing Tons of Cocaine, Other Crimes’ Hernández Participated in the Importation of At Least 185,000 Kilograms of Cocaine; Secured Bribes to Honduran Officials; and Coordinated Two Drug-Related Murders
“Exploiting a high-ranking position in government to wield the power of the state to support drug trafficking is as nefarious as it comes,” said Special Agent in Charge Wendy C. Woolcock. “The conviction and sentencing of Tony Hernandez is a reminder there is no position powerful enough to shield you from facing justice when you violate U.S. drug laws by sending tons of cocaine to our country. As important as this conviction is to the people of the United States, it is also important to the citizens of Honduras who Hernandez purposely put in harm’s way for his own personal gain. Today’s sentencing is a victory for the rule of law and we are grateful to our federal and international partners who made this possible.”
“Former Honduran congressman Juan Antonio Hernández Alvarado was involved in all stages of the trafficking through Honduras of multi-ton loads of cocaine destined for the U.S.,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. “Hernández bribed law enforcement officials to protect drug shipments, arranged for heavily armed security for cocaine shipments, and brokered large bribes from major drug traffickers to powerful political figures, including the former and current presidents of Honduras. Hernández was complicit in at least two murders. Today, Tony Hernández was rightly sentenced to life in prison.”
As reflected in the Superseding Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, evidence at trial, and statements made in court proceedings:
HERNÁNDEZ, along with his brother Juan Orlando Hernández, played a leadership role in a violent, state-sponsored drug trafficking conspiracy. Over a 15-year period, HERNÁNDEZ manufactured and distributed at least 185,000 kilograms of cocaine that was imported into the United States. HERNÁNDEZ commanded heavily armed members of the Honduran military and Honduran National Police; he sold machineguns and ammunition to drug traffickers, some of which he obtained from the Honduran military; he controlled cocaine laboratories in Colombia and Honduras; he secured millions of dollars of drug proceeds for Honduras’s National Party campaigns in connection with presidential elections in 2009, 2013, and 2017; and he helped cause at least two murders. HERNÁNDEZ made at least $138.5 million through his drug trafficking activities, money he was ordered to forfeit in connection with today’s sentencing.
HERNÁNDEZ’s drug trafficking career started in about 2004 when he began providing sensitive law enforcement and military information to major Honduran drug traffickers Victor Hugo Diaz Morales, a/k/a “El Rojo,” and Hector Emilio Fernandez Rosa, a/k/a “Don H.” HERNÁNDEZ provided Diaz Morales with information about, among other things, operations of the Honduran Navy; efforts by the United States to train Honduran Air Force pilots to fly at night to conduct anti-narcotics operations; military radar capabilities so that cocaine plane shipments could avoid detection; and interdiction efforts by certain Honduran National Police officials. Over the course of their relationship, HERNÁNDEZ helped Fernandez Rosa and Diaz Morales distribute approximately 140,000 kilograms of cocaine.
By 2008, HERNÁNDEZ’s narcotics trafficking had expanded, and he was also manufacturing his own cocaine in a laboratory he controlled near El Aceitico, Colombia. HERNÁNDEZ told his co-conspirators that some of the cocaine manufactured at his laboratory was stamped with his initials “TH,” and a photograph of a kilogram of “TH” stamped cocaine was intercepted during the course of the investigation. HERNÁNDEZ supplied his co-conspirators with tons of cocaine that was produced at his laboratory.
Beginning in about 2008, HERNÁNDEZ partnered with Amilcar Alexander Ardon Soriano, a former Honduran drug trafficker and mayor, under the protection of National Party leadership. HERNÁNDEZ and Ardon Soriano secured protection from investigation, arrest, and extradition through massive bribes paid to high-ranking politicians, including, among others, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa and Juan Orlando Hernández. In connection with the 2009 national elections, drug proceed bribes paid in exchange for protection included: (i) Ardon Soriano paying $2 million to support Lobo Sosa’s campaign for presidency and Juan Orlando Hernández’s reelection campaign for a position in the Honduran congress; (ii) Diaz Morales paying $100,000 to HERNÁNDEZ to support National Party campaigns; and (iii) Ardon Soriano bribing three congressmen at the direction of Juan Orlando Hernández so that the congressmen would support Juan Orlando Hernández’s efforts to become president of the congress.
Juan Orlando Hernandez was named president of the congress in early 2010. HERNÁNDEZ, Ardon Soriano, and their co-conspirators, including co-defendant Mario Jose Calix Hernández, a Honduran deputy mayor, and codefendant Mauricio Hernández Pineda, a then-member of the Honduran National Police and HERNÁNDEZ’s cousin, took advantage of National Party protection to continue transporting huge quantities of cocaine. Once or twice a month in 2010, HERNÁNDEZ sent Ardon Soriano cocaine shipments consisting of approximately 300 kilograms; and once a month in 2011 and 2012, HERNÁNDEZ sent Ardon Soriano maritime cocaine shipments ranging in size from 700 to 1,600 kilograms.
In 2013, HERNÁNDEZ was campaigning to become a congressman and Juan Orlando Hernández was campaigning to become president. Around this time, Juan Orlando Hernández solicited $1.6 million in drug proceeds from Ardon Soriano to support himself and National Party campaigns. Also during the 2013 campaign, HERNÁNDEZ accepted $1 million from former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, a/k/a “Chapo,” to support Juan Orlando Hernández’s presidential campaign. During meetings with Chapo in Honduras, HERNÁNDEZ promised to provide protection for members of their conspiracy and their cocaine shipments through Honduran territory if Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president.
In November 2013, HERNÁNDEZ was elected to the Honduran congress and Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president. Between 2015 and 2017, HERNÁNDEZ and Juan Orlando Hernández continued to secure large sums of drug proceeds for National Party campaigns in exchange for protecting drug traffickers. For example, approximately six months before the November 2017 national elections, HERNÁNDEZ and Juan Orlando Hernández met with Ardon Soriano in Copán, Honduras. During that meeting, HERNÁNDEZ and Juan Orlando Hernández solicited $500,000 and 1.6 million Lempira in drug proceeds from Ardon Soriano to “finance” the National Party’s campaign in the Copán and Lempira Departments.
In 2018, HERNÁNDEZ continued to engage in large cocaine shipments with Nery López Sanabria, another significant Honduran drug trafficker. Honduran authorities arrested and detained López Sanabria in connection with a traffic incident and recovered, among other things, several drug ledgers in a secret compartment of his car. One of the ledgers was labeled “Hard Work” 2018, and reflected a 650-kilogram cocaine shipment with HERNÁNDEZ. At least one of the other ledgers seized by Honduran law enforcement in 2018 contained references to “JOH,” initials used by Juan Orlando Hernández. López Sanabria was murdered in a Honduran prison, as described below, shortly after his drug ledgers were introduced at HERNÁNDEZ’s trial.
Hernández’s Weapons Possession and Acts of Violence
HERNÁNDEZ used firearms throughout his drug trafficking. HERNÁNDEZ’s personal weapons included a modified AR-15, an Uzi inscribed with the name of Juan Orlando Hernández, “Presidente de la República,” and an M60 belt-fed machinegun. HERNÁNDEZ also sold machineguns and ammunition to drug traffickers. In 2010, Diaz Morales obtained between 4,000 and 6,000 rounds of assault rifle ammunition from a member of the Honduran National Police who told Diaz Morales he obtained the ammunition from HERNÁNDEZ. In 2012, HERNÁNDEZ supplied 40 M16s to another drug trafficker.
HERNÁNDEZ also coordinated at least two drug-related murders. In 2011, HERNÁNDEZ and Ardon Soriano caused the murder of a rival drug trafficker named Franklin Arita in the Copán Department. HERNÁNDEZ directed Juan Carlos “Tigre” Bonilla Valladares, the regional Honduran National Police chief responsible for the Copán Department at the time, to arrange for Arita’s murder, which was executed by assassins using two 40-millimeter grenade launchers, M16s, and Israeli-made Galil assault rifles. In 2013, HERNÁNDEZ worked with other drug traffickers, including Ardon Soriano, to murder a drug trafficker named Chino because HERNÁNDEZ was concerned that Chino might cooperate with law enforcement.
Hernández’s Obstruction and Other Efforts to Influence the Investigation
HERNÁNDEZ made false statements to law enforcement and the Court during the course of this investigation and prosecution, and he obstructed justice. HERNÁNDEZ (i) traveled to the United States in 2016 and made false statements to law enforcement about his drug trafficking activities; (ii) made false statements about his assets during a January 2019 bail hearing; (iii) caused sensitive witness information to be disclosed in Honduras in violation of a protective order in October 2019; and (iv) made false statements about his assets during an application for appointed counsel in February 2020.
Eight days after the jury found HERNÁNDEZ guilty, on October 26, 2019, López Sanabria – the drug trafficker from whom were seized the ledgers bearing HERNÁNDEZ’s name and Juan Orlando Hernández’s initials – was murdered at a maximum security prison in Honduras. López Sanabria’s attorneys confirmed to the media that one of HERNÁNDEZ’s family members and an investigator hired by HERNÁNDEZ’s family had made unauthorized visits to López Sanabria prior to HERNÁNDEZ’s trial; López Sanabria had rejected their efforts to obtain information about whether he was cooperating with the DEA; and López Sanabria had planned to cooperate with the DEA against Juan Orlando Hernández and HERNÁNDEZ. Leaked surveillance video of the murder shows López Sanabria talking to the warden of the facility, Pedro Ildefonso Armas, while a masked man walks past and unlocks a nearby door. Several individuals who are believed to be prisoners then storm through the door and shoot and stab López Sanabria to death. On December 9, 2019, a group of unknown assailants murdered Jose Luis Pinto, a lawyer who represented López Sanabria. Three days later, on December 12, 2019, a group of unknown gunmen on motorcycles murdered Ildefenso Armas, the warden of the facility in which López Sanabria was murdered, in Tegucigalpa.
On August 8, 2019, Fernandez Rosa was sentenced in this District to life in prison for, among other things, his participation in HERNÁNDEZ’s cocaine importation conspiracy and for committing 18 murders. Several of HERNÁNDEZ’s other co-conspirators, including, among others, Hernández Pineda, Calix Hernández, Bonilla Valladares, Arnaldo Urbina Soto, Carlos Fernando Urbina Soto, and Miguel Angel Urbina Soto, are also charged in this District with firearms and drug trafficking offenses based on, among other things, their participation in HERNÁNDEZ’s cocaine importation conspiracy. On February 12, 2020, Hernández Pineda surrendered in this District and he is awaiting trial. The government of Honduras has not extradited Calix Hernández, Bonilla Valladares, or the Urbina Sotos. On March 22, 2021, HERNÁNDEZ’s co defendant and co-conspirator Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez was convicted at trial in this District of drug trafficking and weapons offenses. Fuentes Ramirez’s sentencing is scheduled for June 22, 2021.
In addition to the prison term, HERNÁNDEZ was sentenced to five years of supervised release.
The investigation was handled by DEA’s Special Operations Division Bilateral Investigations Unit, the New York Strike Force, and the Tegucigalpa Country Office, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda L. Houle, Matthew Laroche, and Jason A. Richman are in charge of the prosecution.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.30: DEA Special Operation Division Special Agent in Charge Wendy C. Woolcock and United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss announced today that Juan Manuel Avila Meza, a former member of the Honduran National Police, was sentenced today to 12 years in prison for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. Avila Meza previously pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield, who imposed today’s sentence.
‘Juan Manuel Avila Meza leveraged his position in law enforcement and as an attorney to attempt to rise above the law, profiting from the reprehensible criminal activities he helped facilitate,” said Special Agent in Charge Woolcock. “Today’s sentencing reaffirms that corruption in law enforcement will never go unchecked by the United States’
The Drug Enforcement Administration, alongside our domestic and international partners, will continue working tirelessly to bring to justice all those who participate in drug trafficking.”
“Juan Manuel Avila Meza conspired to transport large shipments of cocaine into, within, and out of Honduras, including shipments bound for the U.S.,” said U.S. Attorney Strauss. “He provided sensitive law enforcement information to members of the Cachiros to enable their trafficking operations, and he brokered meetings with other corrupt officials to facilitate money laundering and cocaine trafficking. Juan Manuel Avila Meza tarnished the badge he wore by protecting drug traffickers rather than those he took an oath to protect and serve.”
According to the indictment, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings, between at least approximately 2004 and 2014, Avila Meza worked with members of a drug trafficking organization known as the Cachiros, which was a prolific and violent criminal syndicate that relied on connections to politicians, military personnel, and law enforcement to transport cocaine to, within, and from Honduras. During that time, and while Avila Meza was purportedly enforcing the law as a police officer and, later, an attorney, Avila Meza participated in the Cachiros’ criminal enterprise by engaging in drug trafficking, money laundering, sanctions evasion, and debt collection.
Beginning in about 2004, Avila Meza provided the Cachiros with sensitive law enforcement information to facilitate the transportation of cocaine. Avila Meza also assisted the Cachiros with money laundering and evasion of U.S. sanctions. In May 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control publicly identified the Cachiros as a significant foreign narcotics group pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. Nevertheless, beginning in August 2013, the defendant – as an active member of both the Honduran National Police and the Cachiros – assisted the Cachiros with an asset-based money laundering transaction related to a large piece of real estate in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
In February 2014, Avila Meza helped set up and attended a meeting between one of the leaders of the Cachirosand Juan Antonio Hernández Alvarado, aka “Tony Hernández,” another convicted major drug trafficker who is the brother of current Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández, to discuss money laundering transactions between a Cachiros front company and the Honduran government. In June 2014, Avila Meza met with six other members of the Honduran National Police, Fabio Lobo Sosa, the now-convicted son of Porfirio Lobo Sosa, the Honduran president who preceded Juan Orlando Hernández, and two DEA confidential sources purporting to be members of the Sinaloa Cartel. During the meeting, Avila Meza led a discussion of how best to rely on the Honduran National Police to secure safe passage for a large cocaine shipment:
Six other former members of the Honduran National Police, including, among others, Victor Oswaldo Lopez Flores, Ludwig Criss Zelaya Romero, Carlos Jose Zavala Velasquez, and Carlos Alberto Valladares Garcia, were convicted in this case of firearms and/or drug trafficking offenses for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. Each of those individuals has pled guilty in federal court, along with co-conspirator Fabio Lobo. On September 5, 2017, Lobo was sentenced to 24 years in prison; on February 6, 2018, Flores was sentenced to five years in prison; on June 27, 2018, Velasquez was sentenced to 12 years in prison; and on September 27, 2018, Garcia was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Zelaya Romero is awaiting sentencing by Judge Schofield. On October 18, 2019, Hernández Alvarado was convicted at a trial before the Honorable P. Kevin Castel of cocaine importation, weapons, and false statements offenses, and he is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Castel tomorrow.
In addition to the prison term, Avila Meza, 50, was sentenced to four years of supervised release.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob Gutwillig, Matthew Laroche, Jason A. Richman, and Elinor Tarlow are in charge of the prosecution.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.10: The USMS adopted the Sanders case in December 2004. The investigation was deemed a USMS Major Case and was added to the New York State top 100 list and the case went cold:
U.S. Marshals Service Report: ‘Solves 2 Cold Cases & Arrests 2 Fugitives After 17 Years on the Run: In November 2004, Thomas Sanders was indicted in the SDNY on narcotics conspiracy charges after he led the NYPD Queens Gang Unit on a high-speed chase in the town of Valley Stream, N.Y., before crashing his vehicle and fleeing on foot: Investigators searched the vehicle and found 69 kilograms of cocaine’
‘Reggie Chin, wanted by the DEA and the USMS on firearms charges and narcotics conspiracy charges, was a member of the John Shop Crew, an organized drug trafficking ring with concentrated operations in the northern Bronx from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s’
USMS investigators recently developed information that Sanders had assumed the new identify of Franklin Maldonado Santos and was residing in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with a new wife and two children.
On March.01: Members of the Special Directorate for the Search of Rebels and Fugitives (SDSRF), an elite fugitive apprehension unit composed of Dominican military members and federal agents, located and arrested Sanders in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Sanders had no legal status in the Dominican Republic and was deported the following day, via John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, where he was met by members of the USMS NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force who transported him to the Southern District of New York for processing:
In 2002: DEA began arresting John Shop crew members, leading to the indictment on federal charges of more than 20 members, all of whom were found guilty at trial, except for Chin, who was already on the run:
The USMS determined that Chin was using multiple aliases and had a record of multiple arrests by the NYPD and Philadelphia Police Department for firearms violations and narcotics conspiracy and distribution.
A major break in the case came in January from a positive ID on an arrest photo that helped investigators identify Chin’s family members and close associates. The team developed information that a female associate had recently traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, and was due to return to the United States on March 2.
Acting on the possibility that Chin would be at the airport, USMS investigators set up surveillance at the airport and observed the woman exit the terminal and walk toward a blue BMW sedan. DUSMs recognized an individual matching Chin’s description step out of the vehicle and he was taken into custody without incident.
“This cold case achievement demonstrates the interminable determination of the United States Marshals Service’s commitment to the capture of fugitives,” said Ralph Sozio, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of New York. “It is through the dedicated, determined and coordinated efforts of the United States Marshals Service, along with our law enforcement partners that two dangerous fugitives were apprehended after evading capture for 17 years.”
#AceNewsReport – Dec.06: The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Division today announced Operation Faux Pharmacy: A multi-pronged initiative aimed at attacking the opioid epidemic by targeting rogue pharmacies throughout southern California, Hawaii and Nevada #AceNewsDesk reports
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DEA large-scale operation targets 26 pharmacies in three states
in attack against illicit opioid abuse and trafficking
DEA investigations over the last year identified as many as 26 pharmacies in these areas that may have operated outside the bounds of legitimate medicine……The United States has been increasingly devastated by opioid abuse, created in large part by the over-prescribing of potent opioids. Across the country, approximately 11.8 million Americans misuse prescription opioids each year, which contributes to the estimated 65,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States. A majority of these deaths were related to opioids, including heroin, illicit fentanyl, and prescription drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone………..”DEA is fighting the opioid crisis on multiple levels, using every resource available to identify reckless doctors and rogue businesses that fuel addiction in our neighbourhoods and communities,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “We will continue to identify and hold accountable the most significant drug threats, using every tool at our disposal – administrative, civil and criminal – to fight the diversion of controlled substances.”…….DEA and other law enforcement partners utilise a host of tools and resources available to identify some of the most egregious violators of the Controlled Substances Act. As part of this initiative, DEA special agents, diversion investigators, and intelligence analysts examined data that manufacturers and distributors report to DEA, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program information, and Health and Human Services data to determine those most likely to be operating as drug traffickers disguised as legitimate pharmacies……As part of Operation Faux Pharmacy, 26 pharmacies were identified as potential violators of the Controlled Substances Act as a result of investigations triggered by data that was exhaustively compared and analyzed with previous administrative or criminal violations from previous, similar cases. Common indicators include pharmacies that had filled exceptionally high numbers of oxycodone prescriptions, excessive or frequent opioid purchases, multiple customers with identical addresses, or customers traveling extreme distances to specific pharmacies despite access to more convenient options…….DEA partnered with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners as part of this initiative. To date, Operation Faux Pharmacy has seized close to 600,000 dosage units of scheduled drugs. The investigation is ongoing and violators of the Controlled Substances Act may face administrative, civil, and criminal penalties…..Contact: DEA Public Affairs: (202) 307-7977…….
#AceNewsServices – UNITED STATES (Washington) -September 08 Press Release: Statement as follows:
Attorney General Holder Announces New Drug Take-Back Effort to Help Tackle Rising Threat of Prescription Drug Addiction and Opioid Abuse
New DEA Policy Will Authorize Pharmacies, Hospitals to Serve as Authorized Drop-off Sites for Unused Medications
Calling prescription drug addiction an “urgent and growing threat” to our nation’s public health, Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday announced a new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulation that would allow pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and other authorized collectors to serve as authorized drop-off sites for unused prescription drugs. Under the new policy, long-term care facilities will also be able to collect controlled substances turned in by residents of those facilities, and prescription drug users everywhere will have permission to directly mail in their unused medications to authorized collectors.
Attorney General Holder said the new changes will help save lives and protect American families from the increased dangers of prescriptions drug misuse. In 2011 alone, more than half of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States involved prescription drugs, and hazardous opioid pain relievers led to about 17,000 of those deaths. Young people are especially susceptible to these dangers. The Attorney General noted that nearly four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug have obtained it from their parents’ medicine cabinet.
These shocking statistics illustrate that prescription drug addiction and abuse represent nothing less than a public health crisis,” the Attorney General said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. “Every day, this crisis touches – and devastates – the lives of Americans from every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life.”
The new policy announced Monday builds on existing take-back programs launched by the DEA. A recent take-back event coordinated by the DEA last April resulted in the safe return of 390 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 6,100 sites.
Over the last four years alone, the DEA and other partnering organizations have taken in over 4.1 million pounds—or more than 2,100 tons—of prescription pills.
The DEA’s next take-back event will be on Sept. 27, 2014.
In the video message, the Attorney General described the new policy as evidence of the department’s commitment to ending the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse that has already taken too many lives and hurt too many American families.
The complete text of the Attorney General’s video message on this link: