Washington, DC - A 17 count federal indictment was unsealed today in the District of Puerto Rico charging 21 defendants with racketeering, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, burglary and larceny, interference with commerce by robbery, carjacking, conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances and related firearm offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico.
The FBI and the Puerto Rico Police Department, Bank Robbery Division, are in charge of the investigation.
The defendants are: Alfredo Umpierre-Santiago aka Freddie; Luis Ángel Guerrido-Medina aka Viejo; Juan Rosario-Marrero aka Vaquerito; Steven Tapia-Morales aka El Gordo; Elvin Morales-Ramírez aka Chino; Obrayan Hernández-López aka Oby; Luis R. Cotto-Rivera aka Dico; Ivan Martínez-Torres; Enrique Pérez-Rivera aka Henry; David Vargas-Santiago aka Davo; Jahn M. Fermin-Cortés aka Jan; Carlos Fidian Jiménez-Feliz, aka Picachu; José Reyes-Neváres aka Piti; Gabriel Vélez aka Avatar; Yarelis E. García-Ruiz; Javier Ortiz-Nieves aka Javo; Stephanie Herrera-Montañez aka Guri; Karina Alamo-Marrero; Yeisha M. Pedraza-Santiago; Jimmy Molina-Otero aka Tío Jimmy; and Edmanuel Laureano-Spanoz, aka Emma.
The indictment charges robberies to four banks, two credit unions and a gas station. According to the indictment, as part of the racketeering and bank robbery conspiracies, the organization committed the following violent acts:
- On Nov. 25, 2010, seven defendants travelled to COOPACA, a state insured credit union in Levittown, Toa Baja, assaulted and abducted a security officer at gun point and stole approximately $45,220 from an ATM machine and they also abducted and robbed other civilians.
- On Dec. 29, 2014, 11 of the defendants travelled to Colmadito Encantado at Plaza Encantada in Trujillo Alto, assaulted and abducted a security officer at gun point and stole approximately $53,960 from an ATM belonging to Scotiabank.
- On Jan. 5, 2015, 11 of the defendants travelled to the Doral Bank in Vega Baja, burglarized the bank, stole the security recording system, computer equipment and approximately $228,800 from the ATMs.
- On Jan. 28, 2015, nine of the defendants travelled to the Oriental Bank in Cagüitas Mall in Caguas, abducted and robbed a security guard at gun point, breached the bank, and attempted to steal money from the ATM.
- On Feb. 11, 2015, seven of the defendants travelled to the Doral Bank at Plaza Dorada in Dorado with the intent of burglarizing that bank. In their attempt, they abducted one security guard and fatally shot a second security guard.
- On March 28, 2015, five of the defendants travelled to Plaza Morovis and stole $30,330 from an off-premises ATM belonging to COOPERATIVA Moroveña. In order to commit the offense, they abducted and robbed a security guard at gun point and also carjacked his vehicle.
- On Aug. 18, 2015, six of the defendants robbed the Gulf Gas Station Convenience Store located in Ciales and stole $61,480 from an ATM belonging to Banco Popular of Puerto Rico. They also stole $879 from the cash register, 50 cigarette cartons worth over $3,000 and threatened the clerk with a sledgehammer and restrained the clerk in the bathroom.
Defendants Guerrido-Medina and Laureano-Spanoz are facing one charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and marihuana. All defendants are facing a RICO forfeiture allegation of at least $190,900 and a bank robbery forfeiture allegation of $344,240.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue its prosecution of organized gangs and their members who engage in senseless acts of violence to wreak havoc in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “Those who choose to become involved in such a lifestyle should know that law enforcement at every level will work together tirelessly to bring them to justice.”
“Today's operations addressed some of the most violent gang activity in the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Leff for the FBI’s San Juan Division. “The acts of violence that accompanied the alleged robberies were premeditated and utilized sophisticated techniques to defeat alarms and video surveillance systems. The dedicated prosecutors and investigators went to great lengths to identify and apprehend those responsible, and their efforts will significantly increase the safety of our citizens and financial institutions.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Max Pérez-Bouret and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Normary Figueroa are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendants face up to life in prison. Seven of the defendants who participated in the murder included in the indictment are eligible for the death penalty. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.