DEA Seizes 75 Kilograms of Heroin, The Fourth Largest Ever in the
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, and GERARD P. McALEER, the Special
Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New
Jersey Division (“DEA”) announced today a Superseding Indictment
charging three members of an alleged narcotics conspiracy
involved in the distribution of approximately 75 kilograms of
heroin, as well as approximately 84 kilograms of cocaine.
According to documents filed in this case, including
the Superseding Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
From October 2008 until July 14, 2009, RAFAEL
VILLAGRANA-ARREOLA, a/k/a “Raffa,” ALBERTO NIETO, JR., and RAFAEL
VARGAS-AGUILAR, worked together to distribute heroin and cocaine
in New York and in New Jersey. On March 3, 2009, VILLAGRANAARREOLA
traveled from New Jersey to Dyckman Street in New York,
New York, where he obtained a car with a hidden compartment
capable of storing narcotics. On July 14, 2009, VILLAGRANAARREOLA
bought a minivan and several duffel bags and took them to
a warehouse in New Jersey, after which he met up with NIETO and
VARGAS-AGUILAR, who were in a recreational vehicle, at the Ramapo
service area on Interstate 87 in New York.
That same day, VILLAGRANA-ARREOLA and VARGAS-AGUILAR
transported approximately 75 kilograms of heroin and 84 kilograms
of cocaine, hidden in the recreational vehicle, to the warehouse
in New Jersey. Law enforcement agents entered the warehouse on
July 14, 2009, where they arrested NIETO and found the duffel
bags and the secret compartments in the recreational vehicle
containing drugs. VILLAGRANA-ARREOLA was arrested leaving the
warehouse; VARGAS-AGUILAR was apprehended later the same day at a
motel in New Jersey. The seizure announced today was the fourth
largest seizure of heroin in United States history.
VILLAGRANA-ARREOLA, 29, resides in Paterson, New Jersey.
NIETO, 21, resides in Highland, California.
VARGAS-AGUILAR, 56, resides in Tarzana, California.
The defendants have been in custody since their
arrests. VILLAGRANA-ARREOLA and NIETO were arraigned today on
the Superseding Indictment in Manhattan federal court by United
States Magistrate Judge DEBRA FREEMAN.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum
sentence of life in prison, and a maximum fine of $4,000,000, or
twice the gross gain or loss to others from the offense.
Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding work of the United
States DEA for its work in this investigation and thanked the
Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office for its assistance.
Assistant United States Attorneys NICOLE FREIDLANDER
and GLEN KOPP are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely
accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.