Two Defendants Charged With Firearms And Narcotics Trafficking

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

Damian Williams, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Frank A. Tarentino III, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and Keechant Sewell, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today that CESAR VASQUEZ, a/k/a “Aguila,” a/k/a “Primo,” and MICKY COLON, were arrested and charged in a nine-count Complaint with trafficking more than 50 firearms, along with methamphetamine and fentanyl, from Ohio to New York. VASQUEZ and COLON will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger in Manhattan federal court later today.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “Illegal firearms, and especially military-style assault weapons, like many of those allegedly trafficked by these defendants, pose a dire threat to all New Yorkers. These weapons of war are designed to kill, and absent intervention from the dedicated federal, state, and local law enforcement agents who investigated this case, these guns could have been loose on the streets of New York City. That many of these guns were sold alongside narcotics only underscores the connection between drug trafficking and gun violence. We will continue to work with our dedicated partners at the DEA and NYPD to aggressively dismantle those networks that enable gun violence and endanger the lives of New Yorkers.”

DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Frank Tarentino said:  “Fifty guns headed to criminal networks in New York were intercepted, preventing the potential for at least 50 instances of gun-related violence.  These arrests and seizures clearly demonstrate DEA’s resolve to safeguarding our communities from the threats of drugs and guns.  I would like to commend the tireless work and countless hours of collaboration by the New York Strike Force and U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York.”

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NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said:  “The NYPD’s fight against the flow of illegal guns and narcotics into our city is at the forefront of our public-safety mission.  The defendants in this case showed a callous disregard for human life, and we will never waver in our commitment to protect the people we serve – no matter where the threats to them originate.  I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the DEA’s New York Division, and every local, state, and federal agency working with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force for their efforts in this important investigation.”

As alleged in the Complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:

From at least June 2022 until their arrests today, VASQUEZ and COLON were part of a gun and narcotics trafficking operation that moved dozens of guns, alongside methamphetamine and fentanyl, from the Columbus, Ohio area to the Bronx. On five separate occasions, VASQUEZ, COLON, and their co-conspirators sold, or attempted to sell, firearms to undercover law enforcement agents.  During three of those gun incidents, VASQUEZ, COLON, and their co-conspirators also sold, or attempted to sell, the undercover agents narcotics.

In total, VASQUEZ, COLON, and their co-conspirators sold law enforcement agents approximately 51 firearms, approximately 196 grams of methamphetamine, and a “sample” of fentanyl as a precursor to later fentanyl transactions. Included in the firearms that VASQUEZ, COLON, and their co-conspirators sold were more than a dozen assault rifles; other military-style weapons, including a semiautomatic shotgun and assault-type weapons that fire pistol rounds; and numerous handguns.

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VASQUEZ and COLON were arrested early this morning in the Bronx, when they arrived from Ohio, bringing 23 guns and fentanyl into the city. Photos of some the firearms that VASQUEZ, COLON, and his co-conspirators sold are below.

Firearms Sold on June 4, 2022

Firearms Sold on June 17, 2022

Firearms Sold on June 23, 2022

Firearms Sold on July 6, 2022

Firearms Brought to the Bronx on August 11, 2022

VASQUEZ, 19, of Columbus, Ohio, has been charged in Count One with conspiring to traffic firearms, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; in Count Two with trafficking firearms, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; in Count Three with attempting to traffic firearms, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; in Count Four with transferring a firearm for use in a drug trafficking crime, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; in Count Five with attempting to transfer a firearm for use in a drug trafficking crime, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; in Count Six with illegally dealing firearms, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; in Count Seven with illegally transporting and distributing firearms, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; in Count Eight with conspiring to traffic in methamphetamine and fentanyl, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a statutory minimum sentence of five years in prison; and in Count Nine with using and carrying firearms while engaging in the narcotics trafficking conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a statutory minimum sentence of five years in prison.

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COLON, 21, of Columbus, Ohio, is charged in Count One, Count Three, and Counts Five through Nine of the Complaint. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of these defendants would be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) New York Strike Force.  The OCDETF New York Strike Force is a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.  The Strike Force is affiliated with the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA, New York City Police Department, New York State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department, and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Mr. Williams also thanked the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania for its assistance in the case.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Jones and Christy Slavik are in charge of the prosecution.

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