TRENTON, N.J. (WTXF) - On Tuesday, October 17, authorities announced the indictment of 15 alleged members of a major drug ring, including its alleged leader, Fernando Diaz-Rivera, on charges including first-degree racketeering.
Diaz-Rivera, 34, was allegedly one of the biggest heroin and cocaine suppliers in Camden and North Philadelphia.
Diaz-Rivera, also known as “Gordo,” and 14 associates were charged with first-degree racketeering, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, and second-degree conspiracy.
The indictment also charges Diaz-Rivera with first-degree leading a narcotics trafficking network, which carries a sentence of 25 years without parole to life in prison.
Diaz-Rivera and an alleged top deputy, 34-year-old Luis Merced, aka “Moodo,” of Philadelphia, were also charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime, which carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison.
Diaz-Rivera, Merced and five others face additional first-degree drug charges.
Diaz-Rivera remains in custody in Puerto Rico, and Merced remains in custody in Pennsylvania.
Police say the drug ring allegedly distributed a combined total of 20 to 30 kilos of heroin and cocaine per month in Camden and North Philadelphia.
Most of the defendants were arrested in November 2016 as a result of “Operation Inferno.” In the months before the takedown, Diaz-Rivera allegedly ran the ring from Puerto Rico, giving orders to other top ring members.
The ring, which has ties to Mexican drug suppliers, allegedly used guns and threats of violence to conduct its business. The Attorney General’s Office seized over six kilos of heroin and about nine kilos of cocaine during the investigation, intercepting shipments from Chicago and Puerto Rico.
Police say the drugs were worth over $600,000 wholesale, and once cut and packaged for sale on the street, could have commanded up to $2 million or more.
“Diaz-Rivera allegedly was one of the biggest heroin suppliers in Camden and North Philadelphia, which are major distribution hubs for the heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin killing so many people across the region,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By locking up Diaz-Rivera and his associates, we stopped tens of thousands of doses of heroin from reaching the street each week and undoubtedly saved many lives. This indictment will enable us to keep these defendants behind bars for a long time.”
“The interdiction of major drug traffickers is just one aspect of our comprehensive efforts to address the opiate epidemic,” Porrino added. “We have tightened the regulation and monitoring of opioid prescriptions, and our prescription fraud strike team has criminally charged six doctors with illicitly prescribing opioid pain pills for profit, including two who face first-degree charges of strict liability for drug-induced deaths.”
“This far-reaching investigation exposed the entire hierarchy of this criminal syndicate, enabling us to file a leader charge against Diaz-Rivera, and to charge all of his associates with first-degree racketeering,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “If you want to dismantle a major drug trafficking network and cut off their deadly supply line of narcotics, this is the way to do it.”
The following defendants were named in the indictment:
- Fernando Diaz-Rivera, 34, aka “Gordo,” of Salem City, N.J., and Salinas, Puerto Rico
- Luis Merced, aka “Moodo,” 34, of Philadelphia
- Luis Medero, 34, of Camden, also known as “Chucho”
- Javier Rosa-Romero, 31, of Salinas, Puerto Rico, and Camden, also known as “Jav”
- Angel Rosa-Ramos, 24, of Camden, also known as “Chongo”
- Helmer Garcia, 28, of Camden, also known as “E”
- Karina Olmeda-Burgos, 22, of Salem City, N.J. (Diaz-Rivera’s girlfriend)
- Angel Padilla, 44, of Camden, also known as “Choiry”
- Francisco Vinicio Savignon-Paulino, 30, of Bronx, N.Y., also known as “Vinicio”
- Angel Martinez, 39, of Camden, also known as “Pica”
- Aleisha Marin-Vializ, 28, of Camden
- Juan Carlos Moreno-Borrero, 20, of Salinas, Puerto Rico, and Camden, also known as “Moreno”
- Jonathan Contreras, 29, of Camden
- Victor Matais, 35, of Camden
- Krislee Padilla, 39, of Camden (Angel Padilla’s wife)
Two defendants who were arrested last year pleaded guilty pre-indictment:
- Alexis Burgos, 38, of Mount Holly, N.J., also known as “Papote,” pleaded guilty on October 13 to a charge of second-degree conspiracy.
- Marcos Mendoza, 20, of Camden, pleaded guilty on October 6 to a charge of third-degree conspiracy.