Federal, state and local law enforcement officials today announced the filing of federal charges against 55 defendants in five separate cases for their alleged participation in varied criminal conduct, including armed drug trafficking, narcotics conspiracies, illegal firearms sales and firearms violations by convicted felons. The charges are the result of initiatives which stem from the Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), launched by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2011. Through a collaborative partnership, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its federal and local law enforcement allies have sought to dismantle the most violent criminal networks that plague communities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
The law enforcement mission is to combat violent crime, narcotics trafficking, gang activity and firearms offenses by prosecuting offenders and working with community leaders and non-profit entities to provide preventive services to the local populations.
The agencies and departments announcing today’s federal cases are each dedicated members of VRP, included: U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Carlos A. Canino for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Miami Field Division, Special Agent in Charge A.D. Wright for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Miami Field Division, U.S. Marshal Amos Rojas Jr. for the United States Marshals Service’s (USMS) Regional Fugitive Task Force, Acting Director Juan Perez for the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), Chief Rodolfo Llanes for the City of Miami Police Department (MPD), Chief Antonio G. Brooklen for the Miami Gardens Police Department (MGPD), Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Miami Field Office, Sheriff Scott Israel for the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), Chief Dan Guistino for the Pembroke Pines Police Department, Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Miami Regional Operations Center, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) and Chief William Hernandez for the North Miami Beach Police Department (NMBPD).
“Today, we have cast a wide net in our ongoing efforts to prosecute the violent offenders, narcotics traffickers and convicted felons who continue to prey on our local communities,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “Our innovative investigative techniques continue to support the identification and apprehension of those who violate the law. Together, the dedicated law enforcement officers, community leaders and concerned citizens who support the Violence Reduction Partnership are taking back our neighborhoods that are plagued by illegal firearms, illicit drugs and crime.”
“The streets are safer and the good people of Miami can sleep a little easier knowing that these armed drug dealers are locked up and their days of peddling cocaine, heroin and dealing violence in our community are over,” said Special Agent in Charge Canino. “Taking armed violent criminals off the streets and putting them behind bars has always been a focus of ATF and our enforcement mission in Florida. I commend the agents and officers who repeatedly risked their lives to remove these violent criminals from poisoning our community. I wish to recognize federal and state law enforcement partners and especially the leadership of U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer and his office in the relentless prosecution of armed violent offenders.”
“Through the use of electronic intercepts, law enforcement authorities were able to identify participants in the drug trafficking conspiracy who were located in multiple states and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge Wright. “DEA remains committed to combatting drug trafficking through our joint efforts with our law enforcement partners.”
“The serious charges these individuals face and the dangerous weapons seized during this investigation demonstrate an egregious and sustained disregard for the law and the safety of our community,” said Acting Director Perez. “I am very proud of the efforts of our detectives and the Violence Reduction Partnership with our federal, state and local allies. This continued collaboration is crucial in a time when we see a prevalence of gun violence in our communities. While the unfortunate correlation between narcotics trafficking and violence is renowned, so is our commitment to stop these acts from occurring.”
“The City of Miami Police Department has proudly teamed with several local and federal agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the South District of Florida, to bring to an end an elaborate network responsible for drug trafficking in our community,” said Chief Llanes. “The collaborative efforts of all agencies involved have not only proven that law enforcement’s resolve is active and present in our neighborhoods, but equally apparent is the investigative strength obtained through an unified effort to bring an end to drug trafficking and violence on our streets. It is with great pleasure that we stand along all the agencies present today making a commitment to work together to continue our stand against organized crime and drug trafficking in the South Florida.”
“FDLE is proud to take part in this collaborative effort to make Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties safer,” said Special Agent in Charge Walker “We are dedicated to the Violence Reduction Partnership and look forward to many future initiatives that will further this positive impact on our community.”
“These criminals traversed counties and states in search of opportunities to further their illegal enterprises,” said Sheriff Israel. “The fact that working together law enforcement has identified more than 50 targets shows the commitment and dedication we all have to our residents and the betterment of our communities.”
Today, U.S. Attorney Ferrer, joined by members of federal and local law enforcement agencies announced the most recent results of the VRP initiatives impacting areas throughout the Southern District of Florida, including West Little River, Liberty City, Hialeah, West Miami, Kendall and Miami Gardens.
1. United States v. Hiosbani Garcia, et. al.,
Case No. 16-20038-CR-LENARD
On Jan. 21, 2016, 32 individuals were charged by indictment for their alleged participation in interlocking drug trafficking conspiracies in Miami-Dade County, Florida, primarily the neighborhoods of West Little River, Florida, and Liberty City Florida.
Charged in the 16 count indictment are Hiosbani Garcia aka Hioba, 43, of Miami, Florida, Reinaldo Gomez-Garcia aka Jacobo aka Papi, 33, of Miami, Francisco Garcia aka ‘Frank, 27, of Miami, Luis Prieto Jr. aka Lou, 37, of Miami, Darlene Ondina Mendoza, 32, Miami, Michael Leon Thomas aka Poochie, aka Ghost, 39, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, Arturo Triana, 48, of Miami, Jose Turino, 50, of Kendall, Florida, Emilio Quinones aka Toqui, 30, of Hialeah, Florida, Aldo Cabreja-Olivera aka Pacheco, 43, of Miami, Yubisnel Rolando Rodriguez-Montoya, 34, of Miami, Argelis Casanova-Consuegra, 40, of Miami, Yosvani Alarcon-Esteves, 39, of Hialeah, Jose Mena Callejas, 38, of Miami, Calvin Roger Pearce II, 29, of Miami Gardens, Florida, Richard London, 33, of Miami Gardens, Rickey Lee Pryor Jr., 27, of Miami, Essence Sinque Clervil aka E-Class, 30, of Miami, Wayne Thomas Jr. aka Boobie, 40, of North Miami, Florida, Kenneth Desmond Wright II aka Suge, 36, of Pembroke Pines, Melina Elina Pierre-Louis, 29, of Miami, Harry Kwame Figgers aka Jit, 37, of Miami, Nancy Sue Hechavarria, 27, of Miami, Samuel Lee Wooden, 30, of Fort Pierce, Florida, Bernard Franklin Tucker, 60, of Miami, Damon Lamont McWilliams, 49, of Miami, Joaquin Rodriguez, 60, of Miami, Guillermo Horta-Alvarez, 70, of Miami, Raul Rodriguez, 51, of Miami, Isaac James McCullough, 44, of Miami, Luis Manuel Zafora, 50, of Pembroke Pines, and Alan Kirschman, 62, of Pompano Beach, Florida.
According to allegations contained in court documents, law enforcement began investigating Michael Thomas, a suspected crack-cocaine trafficker operating in Liberty City and West Little River, in the fall of 2014. During the course of the initial investigation, undercover officers purchased approximately 12 ounces of crack cocaine and three firearms from Michael Thomas and his associates. Following the undercover purchases, communications intercepted over court-authorized wiretaps and the parallel law enforcement surveillance operations, uncovered a vast drug trafficking network in South Florida that spanned from multi-kilogram cocaine suppliers down to local crack-cocaine distributors and their associates. Hiosbani Garcia and Gomez-Garcia were identified as two of Michael Thomas’ suppliers. The investigation also identified convicted felons who unlawfully possessed firearms and ammunition, individuals who possessed firearms during the course of drug transactions and individuals who illegally sold firearms.
2. United States v. Joel Diaz Fernandez, et al.
Case No. 16-20050-CR-GAYLES
On Jan. 26, 2016, 20 individuals were indicted for their alleged participation in a Miami based heroin trafficking network that extends from Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, as well as other United States cities including Atlanta, Georgia, Huntsville, Alabama, Chicago, Illinois, and Dallas, Texas, into Mexico.
Charged in the twelve count indictment are Joel Diaz-Fernandez aka Joe, 47, of Mexico, Crecencio Silverio aka “Chencho,” 35, of Norcross, Georgia, Margarita Barragan-Velez, 27, of Norcross, Georgia, Marco Antonio Zagal-Garcia aka Toño, 27, of Mexico, William Muñoz aka Guillermo, 43, of Chicago, Jehu Aguilar-Hernandez, 34, of Atlanta, Israel Garcia-Gasper, 23, of Atlanta, Sean William Watkins, 43, of Miami, Francisco Quezada Del Pilar aka Frank, of Mexico, Rafael Vega-Diaz aka Rafa, 40, of Mexico, Shelton Lamar Edden aka Twin, 32, of Miami, Jermaine Daniels aka Maine, 30, of Miami Gardens, Morris Ulysses Moore aka “Garbage,” 43, of Miami Gardens, Brett Tyler Ayers aka Ty, 30, of Huntsville, Darrel Prenell Gibbs, aka G, 50, of Orlando, Florida, Jerry Lee Johnson aka Bruh, 29, of Fort Myers, Florida, Victor Lawrence Drayton aka Old School, 54, of Miami, Jethro Pitts aka Uncle Jeth, 67, of Miami, Morris Perez Brown aka Mo, 43, of Miami Gardens, and Tiffany Ebony Knights, 33, of Decatur, Georgia.
According to allegations contained in court filings, beginning in approximately March of 2015, law enforcement began investigating Moore, a local heroin distributor. Over the next three months, law enforcement allegedly conducted seven undercover purchases, for a total of approximately 250 grams of heroin, directly from Moore. The investigation identified Watkins as Moore’s narcotics supplier and wiretaps were initiated on Watkins’ phones. Through wiretap intercepts, law enforcement determined that Watkins negotiated directly with contacts in Mexico for kilograms of heroin, valued at approximately $65,000 per kilogram. Diaz-Fernandez was a primary source of heroin for Watkins. A number of Mexico-based associates supplied Watkins and worked with Diaz-Fernandez’s heroin trafficking network. The heroin was often routed through Atlanta, where Watkins and other associates would purchase the heroin and transport it to Miami for distribution throughout South Florida. Watkins would then break down the heroin and sell smaller quantities to other distributors, who would then distribute the narcotics throughout Miami and elsewhere including Huntsville, Fort Myers and Orlando.
3. United States v. Wayne Cox,
Case No. 16-20034-CR-GAYLES
On Jan. 19, 2016, Wayne Cox, 56, of Miami Gardens, was charged in a five count indictment with unlawfully engaging in the business of dealing in firearms, being a felon in possession of a firearm and knowingly selling the firearms to a convicted felon.
4. United States v. Timothy Nathaniel Brown,
Case No. 16-20033-CR-MORENO
On Jan. 19, 2016, Timothy Brown, 37, of Liberty City, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
5. United States v. Antonio Rossello
Case No. 16-2068-MJ-WHITE
On Jan. 20, 2016, Antonio Rossello, 41, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was charged by complaint with unlicensed dealing in firearms, unlawful possession of a machinegun, possession of an unregistered firearm, the unlawful transfer of a firearm and the unlawful making of a firearm. According to court documents, between on or about Oct. 29, 2015, and Jan. 8, 2016, Rossello, engaged in the repeated, unlawful sale of firearms (including fully-automatic machine guns) and ammunition.
During the course of the above referenced investigations, law enforcement seized 23 firearms and approximately 506 rounds of ammunition, approximately 10 kilograms of powder cocaine, approximately nine kilograms of heroin and approximately 500 grams of crack-cocaine.
If convicted, the defendants face the following maximum possible statutory sentences for their charged offenses: up to life in prison for possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon; up to life in prison for possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, up to 10 years in prison for the unlawful transfer or making of firearms, up to five years in prison for unlicensed dealing in firearms; up to 10 years in prison for unlawful possession of a machinegun; up to 10 years in prison for an unregistered firearm; up to life in prison for conspiring to possess controlled substances with the intent to distribute; and up to life in prison for possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute.
U.S. Attorney Ferrer thanked the law enforcement agencies, community leaders and social service providers involved in the VRP, the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). U.S. Attorney Ferrer also commended the investigative efforts of ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service’s Fugitive Task Force, MDPD, MPD, Miami Gardens Police Department, FBI, BSO, Pembroke Pines Police Department, FDLE, Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office and NMBPD. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth Schlessinger and Cristina Moreno.
An indictment or complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.