ATLANTA (AP) — Federal prosecutors have charged 12 people they say were part of a national cocaine trafficking organization, according to an indictment unsealed this week.
A federal grand jury in Atlanta handed down the indictment July 9, following an 18-month FBI investigation of a drug trafficking organization with ties to Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas and Louisiana, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement Friday. A federal judge ordered the indictment unsealed Thursday.
Federal, state and local law enforcement officers in Atlanta, Boston, Scranton, Pa.; Orlando, Fla.; and Tamarac, Fla. on Thursday were told to arrest the people charged in the indictment. Nine of the 12 defendants had been arrested by Friday afternoon. It wasn't immediately clear Friday whether any of them had a lawyer.
Prosecutors say Edwin Rivera, who's also known as Neno and Nano, is a Boston-based drug dealer who oversaw the trafficking ring. The alleged traffickers used vehicles outfitted with hydraulic concealed compartment, or trap, to smuggle multiple kilograms and hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout the country.
Hector Ramon DeJesus, who operated an auto shop in Atlanta, installed the traps in the vehicles with the help of Juan Manuel Santana Baez, who's also known as Robin, prosecutors said. Rivera used a group of couriers to transport the drugs and cash.
The investigation into the trafficking ring is known by the FBI code name "Operation Holy Trap."
"Today's takedown is another chapter in this office's ongoing commitment to hold significant narco-traffickers to account and to dismantle their operations and infrastructure," Yates said. "Our streets are safer with these serious offenders off them."
If convicted, those charged in the indictment face a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment, as well as fines of over $10 million.