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Puerto Rico / Buffalo 'cocaine conspiracy ringleader' pleads guilty

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today Cesar Rivera-Figueroa, aka Fat Boy, 28, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. The charge carries mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum of life and a $2,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura Higgins and Wei Xiang, who are handling the case, stated that the defendant was the leader of a drug trafficking organization who coordinated the transport of cocaine from multiple suppliers in Puerto Rico to the Buffalo area. Rivera-Figueroa then directed the distribution of cocaine, which included setting the price of cocaine, directing the collection of debt and the storage of proceeds, and instructing how payment was remitted back to Puerto Rico. The defendant also directed co-defendants to make trips to New York City to retrieve quantities of cocaine to bring back to Buffalo for distribution, and to make payment for the cocaine.

Throughout the course of the conspiracy, several packages containing kilogram-quantities of cocaine were sent from Puerto Rico and were intercepted by the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Cesar Rivera-Figueroa was arrested in September 2017 along with 11 others including: Jenhsen Rodriguez; Daniel Navarro; Virgen Perez-Jurado; Josue Cardona-Soto; Devincio K.D. James; Omar Vazquez-Baez; Luis Andino; Joseph Jones; Quinton Jones; Sucley Romero; and Tori Rockmore. Rivera-Figueroa is the fourth defendant to be convicted. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Edward Kennedy; and the Erie County Sheriff’s office, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 8, 2019, before Judge Vilardo.

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