By Jim Kouri
Fifty members and associates of the Bronx Trinitarios Gang were charged on Friday with racketeering, narcotics and firearms offenses, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
BTG allegedly operated as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO), and 41 defendants were charged with racketeering conspiracy, related to their participation in this criminal organization, which engaged in narcotics trafficking, murder and attempted murder.
These charges stem from an investigation by federal law enforcement agents (ICE, ATF, DEA) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
“As alleged, for nearly eight years, the Trinitarios street gang terrorized a wide swath of the Bronx with their drug dealing and violence,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Southern District of New York.
“Gangs like the Trinitarios are a cancer on New York’s neighborhoods – both in the physical harm they inflict and the atmosphere of despair they create. Today’s arrests again demonstrate this Office’s commitment to eradicating the scourge of gangs throughout the Southern District of New York and to giving back to residents the peaceful enjoyment of their communities. In the past two years, we have prosecuted over 400 alleged gang members and our efforts remain very much ongoing,” Bharara said.
“The ‘Bad Boys’ are out of their narcotics-related business of shootings, stabbings and gun trafficking because of outstanding work by the NYPD Gang Division, federal agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“Today’s arrest of members of the violent ‘Bronx Trinitarios Gang’ is yet another indication of law enforcement’s pledge to making our communities safer,” said Joseph Anarumo Jr., special agent in charge of the ATF in New York. “This is the second, in-depth strike against this violent gang which terrorized upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Today’s arrests only reinforce ATF’s commitment to working together with our partners targeting armed, violent gang members and narcotics traffickers preying on our neighborhoods.”
According to court documents, the Bronx Trinitarios Gang is a criminal organization that operates primarily in the Bronx. BTG members and associates engage in acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, and threats of violence, in order to protect and expand their criminal operations and to defend their territory against rival street gangs. BTG members and associates also sell numerous types of narcotics, including marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, oxycodone and suboxone.
According to the indictment, Leonides Sierra, Richard Gonzalez, Jose Cruz, Carlos Urena, Edwin Ciriaco, Anibal Ramos, and Antonio Pena are leaders and members of the BTG who directed other members to carry out illegal and other activities as part of the racketeering conspiracy including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking.
The indictment also charges that many members were part of a gang within the BTG that was headed by Cruz and was known as the “Bad Boys.”
Forty-nine BTG members and associates are charged with conspiring to sell more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, more than 28 grams of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, oxycodone and suboxone. Forty-three individuals are charged with using and carrying firearms during and in relation to the racketeering conspiracy, and with illegally possessing firearms. Thirteen individuals are also charged with trafficking firearms.
In connection with these arrests, federal and local law enforcement officers also executed court-authorized search warrants at 22 locations tied to the investigation. During the arrests and searches, agents and officers seized, among other evidence, quantities of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, at least two firearms with ammunition, two machetes, and multiple knives.
In a coordinated strike, 33 defendants were arrested in New York. Three defendants, Sierra, Juan Nunez, and Jonathan Majdanski, are already in custody on state charges. Jonathan Evangelista was arrested in Georgia. As of the time of this Public Safety Examiner news story, the following defendants are still being sought: Alfred Laford, Cesar Almonte, Carlonell Paulino, Ronald Peralta, Jose Ballenilla, Jose Geronimo-Figueroa, Henry O. Pena, Dave McPherson, Vance Hill, Nelson Jorge-Martinez and Henry Paulino. Antonio Pena and Julio Brito are believed to be in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. government will seek their extradition to the United States.
These charges are the result of a long-term investigation, “Operation Patria,” conducted by federal and local law enforcement officers working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Operation Patria is the second coordinated law enforcement strike against the Trinitarios gang.
In March 2009, 41 members and associates of the gang’s Manhattan faction were arrested and charged with narcotics and firearms offenses. The original indictment was superseded to add racketeering charges, including murder, conspiracy to murder, and multiple attempted murders in aid of racketeering.