A year-long investigation has led to a pipeline of drugs from Mexico through Pennsylvania being shut down, authorities announced Wednesday.
"Operation Tubería Rota" (translation, Operation Broken Pipeline), was a joint federal and local effort designed to attack the pipeline from Mexico through southern Chester County, said District Attorney Tom Hogan, adding that the drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) hid their couriers among the law-abiding Latino population.
"Operation Tubería Rota sends a loud message to the Mexican DTOs -- we know where you are, we are coming after you, and we will shut down your drug pipeline in Chester County," Hogan said.
The investigation resulted in the arrests of 16 people from Berks, Chester and Delaware counties in Pennsylvania and the Wilmington and Newark areas of Delaware.
"The defendants in this case established a drug distribution network responsible for distributing significant quantities of cocaine in Chester County," said David G. Dongilli, special agent-in-charge for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Authorities identified those arrested as being:
- Daniel Ramirez, 28, of Nottingham, Chester Co.;
- Miguel Luna-Rodriguez, a/k/a “Gallo”, 44, of Nottingham, Chester Co.;
- Martin Romero-Cruz, 30, of Oxford, Chester Co.;
- Miguel Lara-Zavala, a/k/a “Twinky”, 44, of Kennett Square, Chester Co.;
- Abel Francisco Tinoco-Guitierrezz, 42, of Chadds Ford, Delaware Co.;
- Martin Zavala-Zavala, 36, of Coatesville, Chester Co.;
- David Mora, 31, of Reading;
- Erick Orihuela-Solalinde, 29, of Reading;
- Moise Lantigua-Ayala, a/k/a “Moi”, 29, of Reading;
- Fidencio Avalos, a/k/a “La Tusa”, 42, of Kennett Square, Chester Co.;
- Jonathan Garcia Sanchez, a/k/a “Cesar”, 25, of Wilmington, Del.;
- Jesus Zamora-Zamora, 40, of Wilmington, Del.;
- Benjamin Lara-Medina, 38, of Wilmington, Del.;
- Cesar Morales Castillo, a/k/a “Rafael Castaneda” and “Chicles”, 32, of Wilmington, Del.;
- José Rocha-Luna, a/k/a “Pokey”, 25, of Wilmington, Del.; and
- Jose Miranda Garcia, a/k/a “Mario”, 29, of Newark, Del.
The suspects have been charged with drug delivery, conspiracy, and related offenses. In addition, a number of the defendants also face deportation proceedings, officials said.
The investigation, launched by the Chester County district attorney's office, involved the Chester County detectives, the Chester County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Strike Force, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Kennett Square Police Department, the East Whiteland Police Department, the Coatesville Police Department, the Delaware State Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Reading Police Department and the Berks County detectives.
"This operation was a model of law enforcement cooperation and communication," Hogan said. "Because Chester County is such a large county, bordering four other counties and two states, we need to coordinate resources with neighboring law enforcement agencies to combat these drug trafficking organizations."