37 charged in large-scale drug trafficking operations between Milwaukee, Puerto Rico

NOW: 37 charged in large-scale drug trafficking operations between Milwaukee, Puerto Rico

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Thirty-seven people have been charged in connection to two large-scale drug trafficking operations involving shipments of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl from Puerto Rico to Milwaukee through the United States Postal Service. 

As part of "Operation Island Hopper," warrants were executed in Milwaukee and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Jan. 15, with the following recovered: 

  • 15 kilograms of cocaine 
  • 50 grams of heroin 
  • 80 grams of crack cocaine 
  • 35 firearms (25 handguns, 8 rifles, 1 fully-automatic handgun, and 1 sawed-off shotgun)
  • $267,000 in U.S. currency 

“Yesterday [Wednesday] morning, federal, state and local law enforcement conducted a large scale joint operation involving approximately 300 officers that lead to the arrests of defendants in Milwaukee and Puerto Rico," U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger said.

In the "Island Hopper" case, 26 people are facing charges including six in Puerto Rico. Of the 26, 22 people have been arrested.

In the second case, called "Operation Tire Iron", eleven defendants were charged in Milwaukee, with conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 50 grams or more of fentanyl in the Milwaukee area. Of the 11, 10 have been arrested.

  • Adolfo Reyes-Feliciano, 26
  • Jonathan Aranzamendi-Maldonado, 43
  • Azahel Velazquez-Melgoza, 22 
  • Brian Melendez-Santiago, 22
  • Jomuel Lozano-Martinez, 27
  • Malek Farakhna, 32
  • Kendell Newkirk, 24 
  • Angel Padilla-Colon, 25
  • Eduardo Gutierrez-Armedariz, 36
  • Eduardo De Jesus Robles-Combronero 
  • Mario Navarro, 21

The individuals were charged based on a multi-year investigation led by law enforcement agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the City of Kenosha Police Department, the City of Greenfield Police Department, and the City of West Allis Police Department. 

Authorities say both cases involved the cooperation of many departments at the local, state and federal levels.

“Yesterday [Wednesday] was a great day for public safety in Wisconsin," Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said. "When we work together, in this way, we can do these large scale take downs."

Krueger said these two busts are only the beginning. 

“We anticipate seeing more actions like this: focused, coordinated law enforcement actions to attack criminal organizations," he said

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