Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

Watch the video -white

March 12, 2007

Attorney General Corbett announces arrests of up to 27 in multi-million dollar Berks County cocaine trafficking ring

READING - Attorney General Tom Corbett, along with officials from the Pennsylvania State Police and Reading Police Department, today announced that the state troopers and Reading Police and Bureau of Narcotic Investigations (BNI) agents have arrested 22 out of 27 suspected drug dealers who are charged with being part of a multi-million dollar cocaine ring operating in Berks County and surrounding areas.Lockdown1

Corbett said the investigation, known as "Operation Lockdown," was triggered from evidence developed during the seizure of 24 kilos of cocaine from a pickup truck in Reading in September of 2004.

"With today's arrests we have dismantled one of the largest cocaine distribution rings to ever operate in Reading," said Corbett.  "We allege this organization was distributing multiple kilos of cocaine per week in the region."  

As the investigation unfolded, court authorized wire taps were approved in December 2006 to determine the scope of the organization and help identify suppliers.  The investigation was placed before a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the charges that are being filed today.

Corbett explained that today's arrests are the second phase of an ongoing effort by the Attorney General's Office, the State Police and Reading Police to dismantle drug rings operating in Reading and throughout the Route 222 corridor of Allentown, Reading and Lancaster. 

In the first phase of the investigation, Corbett said, State Police and Reading Police arrested 25 cocaine dealers in Reading led by Peter Borelli in April 2005.  Borelli's supplier, Alberto Sanchez-Resto, and Sanchez-Resto's supplier, Jacob Blanco-Garcia, were also arrested.  Additionally, Borelli and several members of his organization were charged with the drug-related murders of Jamar O'Bryant and Harvey Harris.

"Fat Sam"Operation Lockdown 1
Corbett said the grand jury identified the leader of the Reading cocaine ring as Samuel "Fat Sam" Velez Rivera of Muhlenberg Township.  Velez Rivera allegedly distributed two-to- six kilos of cocaine per week since 2002.

Corbett said the grand jury found that Velez Rivera obtained large quantities of cocaine from two suppliers, Tony "Tone" Lopez, of Brooklyn, and Brenda "Old Head" Estremera-Santos, of Reading.  Lopez was the main supplier for the Velez Rivera organization.

Assisting Velez Rivera in his drug trade were his wife, Thamara Velez, and his chief lieutenant and distributor, Steven "Chachi" Colon, of Wyomissing.  Velez Rivera directed Colon to pick up his cocaine from Lopez in either New York or New Jersey.  Velez Rivera also directed Colon to purchase cocaine from his alternate source, Estremera-Santos.  The grand jury found that Jorge Rojas of Philadelphia was Estremera-Santos' supplier.

Corbett said on Feb. 6, 2007, Colon went to New Jersey and obtained a shipment of cocaine from Lopez.  On his return trip, the state police stopped Colon's vehicle and seized 10 kilos of cocaine.Operation Lockdown 2

While the Pennsylvania State Police were executing a search warrant on Colon's vehicle in Pennsylvania, the New Jersey State Police executed a search on Lopez' vehicle and the apartment where he met Colon.  They seized $55,000 in cash from Lopez and seven working cell phones Lopez used.

The grand jury found that Velez Rivera allegedly hid his cocaine in a "stash house" at 47 East Muirfield Dr., Cumru Township, owned by Esther "Froggy" Torres.

Corbett said that Velez Rivera had established a network of drug dealers who obtained cocaine directly from him and then distributed the cocaine through their own networks.  In addition to Colon, the grand jury identified key members of Velez Rivera's ring as Jaime "Mito" Rodriguez, of Sinking Springs and Ivette Santiago, of Reading.

Corbett identified other sub dealers within Velez Riveras' organization as Siwell Gonzalez, of Orefield, Lehigh County; Wilson Rojas, Roger "Chocolate" Vannoy, Jacob Santiago, John Ricchuitti, Nicholas Limberiou, Catherine Jefferson, Clarence Coad, Anola "Lolla" Williams, all of Reading; Jeremy Reinhold, Roberto "Marshmallow" Colon, both of Lancaster; Caferino Hernandez, Berks County Prison; Emiliano Caloeiro, of Laureldale; Ismel Cruz, of Shillington; and three unidentified individuals known only as "Sparks," "Blackie," and "Worm."

Also charged in the second wave of the investigation is drug dealer and alleged murderer Rommell "Buddha" Dominguez Cruz, of Reading.

"Buddha"
Corbett said the investigation into Cruz and his brother, Eduardo "Little Buddha" Dominguez, also of Reading, revealed that the brothers were allegedly involved in an arm of the Elson Paulino drug organization.

According to grand jury testimony, the 24 kilograms of cocaine that were seized in September of 2004 were to be delivered to Cruz, Dominguez, an unidentified individual, and Velez Rivera, who received the largest quantity.

Corbett said Cruz and another individual, Jaime "Uty" Acevedo, of Reading, are also being charged with the Aug. 4, 2001 shooting death of Rosa Gonzalez.  The two individuals were involved in a gun battle outside 231 North Front St., Reading, where Rosa Gonzalez was allegedly caught in the crossfire and died from a gunshot wound to the lower back.

Corbett said Dominguez was arrested on Tues., March 6, 2007 on his drug charges.

Corbett said the defendants, with the exception of Cruz and Acevedo, were preliminarily arraigned today before West Reading Magisterial District Judge Timothy Dougherty.  Cruz and Acevedo will be arraigned before Reading Magisterial District Judge Deborah Lachina.  The case will be prosecuted in Berks County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Iva Dougherty.

Corbett thanked the Pennsylvania State Police, the Reading Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the National Guard, and the Berks County Sheriff's Department for their assistance and cooperation with this investigation.

Below is a list of the defendants and the charges filed against them:

--Samuel Velez Rivera, 34, 731 Rivervale Road, Muhlenberg Township, Berks County, is charged with six counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, two counts possession and possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, two counts possession and possession with intent to deliver marijuana, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, one count dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, one count criminal use of a communication facility, one count persons not to possess firearms, and one count possession of instrument of crime.

--Thamara Velez, 31, 731 Rivervale Road, Muhlenberg Township, Berks County, is charged with two counts criminal conspiracy, two counts corrupt organizations, one count dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Tony Lopez, 31, 959 4th Ave., Brooklyn, New York, is charged with eight counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, two counts possession and possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Brenda Doris Estremera-Santos, 42, 1160 Green St., Reading, is charged with four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Jorge Rojas, 33, a fugitive and formerly of 5212 N. Front St., Philadelphia, is charged with four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, one count criminal use of a communication facility, and one count flight to avoid apprehension.

--Daren Vasquez, 28, 3550 Oxford Circle, Allentown, is charged with two counts criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, one count dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, and one count criminal use of a communications facility.

--Esther Torres, 30, 47 Muirfield Drive, Cumru Township, Berks County, is charged with two counts participating in corrupt organizations and two counts criminal conspiracy.

--Steven Colon, 32, 2914 Slate Hill Road, Wyomissing, is charged with four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, two counts possession and possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, two counts possession and possession with intent to deliver marijuana, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, one count criminal use of a communication facility, one count receiving stolen property, one count person not to possess firearms, and one count possession of instrument of crime.

--Jaime Rodriguez, 26, 632 Vester Place, Sinking Springs, is charged with six counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, two counts possession and possession with intent to deliver marijuana, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Ivette Santiago, 35, 524 S. 16th St., Reading, is charged with four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Wilson Rojas, 30, 1301 Cotton St., Reading, is charged with four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Roger Vannoy, 35, 1014 N. 11th St., Reading, is charged with six counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Jeremy Reinhold, 27, 242 Willow Valley Dr., Lancaster, is charged with eight counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver marijuana, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, one count criminal use of a communication facility, and one count person not to possess firearms.

--Roberto Colon, 32, 1015 N. Lime St., Lancaster, is charged with four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Siwell Gonzalez, 31, 5671 Clauser Road, Apt. Read, Orefield, is charged with six counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Jacob Santiago, 30, 116 S. 2nd St., West Reading, is charged with two counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--John Ricchuitti, 44, 755 N. 8th St., Reading, is charged with four counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Nicholas Limberiou, 28, 520 Frontier Ave., Reading, is charged with 10 counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Catherine Jefferson, 43, 838 N. 2nd St., Reading, is charged with six counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Ceferino Hernandez, 30, Berks County Prison, Leesport, is charged with six counts possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count criminal conspiracy, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Clarence Coad, 69, 441 Tulpehocken St., Reading, is charged with one count possession, one count criminal use of a communication facility, and one count person not to possess a firearm.

--Emiliano Caloeiro, 33, 1501 County St., Laureldale, is charged with three counts possession and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Ismael Cruz, 30, 20 Philadelphia Ave., Shillington, is charged with two counts possession and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Anola Williams, 45, 414 Schuylkill Ave., Reading, is charged with four counts possession and one count criminal use of a communication facility.

--Rommell Dominguez Cruz, 28, 759 N. 8th St., Reading, is charged with one count first-degree murder, one count third-degree murder, two counts participating in corrupt organizations, one count criminal conspiracy, and two counts possession, possession with intent to deliver cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

--Eduardo Dominguez, 22, 759 N. 8th St., Reading, is charged with two counts participating in corrupt organizations, one count criminal conspiracy, and two counts possession, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, and drug paraphernalia.

--Jaime Acevedo, 30, 314 S. 6th St., 2nd Floor, Reading, is charged with one count first-degree murder and one count third-degree murder.

(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

###