WASHINGTON – Three alleged members of a drug trafficking organization based in Puerto Rico have been indicted in the District of Columbia, following an investigation into shipments of cocaine from San Juan for distribution in the Washington, D.C. area. Two of the defendants face an additional charge stemming from a murder, related to the drug trafficking, that took place in Puerto Rico.

Rey Rivera Ruiz, 39, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the alleged leader, was indicted on May 26, 2022, in a superseding indictment returned by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and one count of continuing criminal enterprise, for his leadership and supervisory role in the drug trafficking organization. 

Additionally, Jann Jousten Aponte Rivera, 26, and Michael Gabriel Hernandez Rivera, 20, both of San Juan, Puerto Rico, were indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, one count of continuing criminal enterprise – causing the intentional death of Shantay Butler, 44 – and one count of causing the death through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense.

If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory-minimum term of 20 years imprisonment and a maximum term of life imprisonment or death.  The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds of the alleged crimes.  On April 1, 2021, the defendants were originally indicted in a one-count indictment with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.  The defendants will be arraigned on the charges on a date to be determined by the Court.       

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistance is being provided by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department, the Frederick County, Maryland Police Department, and the Puerto Rico Police Department’s Homicide Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Henek and Anthony Scarpelli, of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Assistance was provided by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Fletcher.

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