Berks

15 arrested in bust of violent drug trafficking organization

DA: Sold about $20M in drugs over year's time

READING, Pa. - Fifteen people have been arrested for allegedly operating a violent drug trafficking organization that was responsible for $20 million in drug sales in Berks County over a year's time.

District Attorney John Adams, along with Reading and state police, announced the results Thursday of a joint investigation, dubbed "Operation Shattered."

The suspects stand accused of committing a long list of serious offenses, including attempted first-degree murder.

"The violence that was associated with this drug trafficking organization was unprecedented," Adams told 69 News. "They were absolutely a menace to the city."

The investigation began in September after detectives learned of the organization and its operation in and around Reading. The probe culminated with an early-morning roundup of the suspects on Wednesday.

The investigation, Adams said, initially centered around Jesus Feliciano-Trinidad, AKA Chewey, but 19 other individuals were soon identified as active members of the organization, with Feliciano-Trinidad being its leader.

Over the past 30 days, Feliciano-Trinidad plotted with the other members to murder five people on five different occasions, including a rival drug dealer in the 500 block of Moss Street in Reading on February 25, Adams said.

That plan was thwarted when detectives raided the home that morning and arrested four people who Adams described as the organization's rival drug dealers. Detectives also seized approximately 200 packets of heroin.

Two days later, on February 27, Feliciano-Trinidad planned to kill the brother of the aforementioned rival drug dealer in the area of Moss and Elm streets, Adams said. That plan was stopped when Reading police officers established a presence in the area.

"They had no thoughts, no qualms of committing murder or killing someone that was in their way," said Reading police Chief Andres Dominguez. "The guys involved in this organization were dangerous."

Feliciano-Trinidad and four others were subsequently stopped by police in the 100 block of South Third Street. Detectives said they seized their vehicle after finding a gun under the front seat and later found three other fully-loaded handguns inside a hidden trap.

Later the same day, February 27, Feliciano-Trinidad planned to kill an unidentified person in the 300 block of South Eighth Street, but detectives prevented Feliciano-Trinidad and three others from reaching their destination, stopping their car in the 200 block of South Ninth Streets, Adams said.

On March 3, detectives said they were conducting a court-approved wiretap when they intercepted a conversation in which Feliciano-Trinidad and an unidentified person conspired to murder another person, whose name is being withheld.

"I can't tell you how many [murders] would have occurred if we weren't able to solve them and what else would have happened for the rest of the year," Dominguez said.

On March 16, detectives said they were listening in on a conversation in which Feliciano-Trinidad told a member of his organization to bring a firearm to the area of South 11th and Franklin streets for the purpose of committing a violent act. Soon after the call ended, detectives said they observed Jaime Perez-Cruz leave 34 South 11th Street and walk toward Franklin. Detectives said they stopped him before they got there and found him to be armed with a fully-loaded 9mm handgun.

"I think they're connected to multiple homicides, and I am certain that you will hear from us again in the future, hopefully near future, as we solve those homicides based upon this investigation," Adams said.

During the roundup that resulted Wednesday morning, detectives served warrants to search the following locations in Reading:

  • 318 Wood Street;
  • 542 South 11th Street;
  • 34 South 11th Street, first-floor apartment;
  • 329 Lombard Street;
  • 2188D Elder Street,
  • 316 North Ninth Street, Apartment A;
  • 329 Constitution Way;
  • 333 Constitution Way;
  • 124 Buttonwood Street, second-floor apartment;
  • 304 South Sixth Street, second-floor apartment;
  • 330 South 10th Street

Detectives said they seized the following items:

  • 470 grams of heroin/fentanyl with a possible street value of $140,860;
  • 150 grams of cocaine worth approximately $15,000;
  • 2,485 grams of methamphetamine, with a value of about $248,500;
  • 325 Oxycodone pills, worth approximately $6,500;
  • 40 packets of synthetic cannabinoids, worth about $400;
  • 21 firearms;
  • $19,862 in cash;
  • Drug-related paraphernalia associated with distribution;
  • One ballistic bullet-proof vest

"They were not afraid to use those guns," Adams said. "Getting those 21 guns off the street, it's going to make our city safer. It's going to make our county safer. It's going to make our community, as a whole, a lot safer, and I'm very proud of that."

The suspects taken into custody have been identified as:

  • Jesus Feliciano-Trinidad, 29, of Reading: Charged with five counts of criminal solicitation to commit murder; two counts of criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder; five counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; 14 counts of delivery of a controlled substance; 35 counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; 35 counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity; and receiving stolen property.
  • Freddy Lee, 35, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; 16 counts of delivery of a controlled substance; 17 counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; 17 counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Sharon Melendez-Ortiz, 38, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; delivery of a controlled substance; possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Yomar Velazquez-Figueroa, 20, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; seven counts of delivery of a controlled substance; 20 counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; 20 counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity; firearms not to be carried without a license.
  • Fitzgerald Rios, 29, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder; delivery of a controlled substance; 21 counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; 21 counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Jaime Perez-Cruz, 37, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms; firearms not to be carried without a license.
  • Mariela Alvarado, 37, of Reading: Charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance; two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; two counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Gisela Mendez, 43, of Reading: Charged with four counts of delivery of a controlled substance; seven counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; seven counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Julio Caceres-Gotay, 24, of Reading: Charged with three counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; three counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Miguel Vega-Mendez, 28, of Reading: Charged with six counts of delivery of a controlled substance; nine counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; nine counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Welinton Cabrera, 27, of Reading: Charged with delivery of a controlled substance; four counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; five counts of possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Jean Reyes-Burgos, 24: Charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal use of a communication facility.
  • Cristian Garcia-Ramos, 22, of Reading: Charged with three counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.
  • Owen Malave-Medina, 21, of Reading: Charged with three counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.
  • Lysbet Santiago-Rodriguez, 18, of Reading: Charged with three counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.

"We have really, today, made a difference in the safety in our community, and putting them in jail and hopefully keep them in jail for many, many, many years," Adams said.

The following suspects are still being sought:

  • Dewayne Quinones, 24, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder; receiving stolen property; persons not possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms; delivery of a controlled substance; two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Richie Rivera Jr., 25, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder; receiving stolen property; persons not to posses, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms, criminal use of a corrupt communication facility; corrupt organizations.
  • Luis DeJesus, 37, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; delivery of a controlled substance; possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; possession of a controlled substance; criminal use of a communication facility; corrupt organizations; dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.
  • Joshua Figueroa-Rodriguez, 25, of Reading: Charged with receiving stolen property and firearms not to be carried without a license.
  • Richard Luciano, 54, of Reading: Charged with conspiracy to commit delivery of a controlled substance; conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; conspiracy to commit possession of a controlled substance.

Anyone who knows of the whereabouts of those still at large can contact Crime Alert Berks County via anonymous text to 847411, starting the message with keyword alertberks, or by calling 877-373-9913.

"My message to the drug dealers is this is not the place where you want to come and do business," said Capt. Kristal Turner-Childs, commander of Pennsylvania State Police's Reading-based Troop L. "We are going to continue the fight. We're going to continue to stop the drug dealing here in this city, and we're going to ensure that the people here are safe."


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