5 charged in Bronx gun, heroin trafficking ring bust

Credit: New York State Office of the Attorney General.

Five people have been indicted in connction with a gun and heroin trafficking ring that operated in the Bronx, law enforcement officials announced on Thursday.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and the New York Strike Force announced a 107-count indictment against the suspects, alleging that they illegally sold 16 firearms, including four assault weapons, 11 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices and over 300 rounds of ammunition.

"Let these arrests serve as a loud and clear message, there is zero tolerance for gun trafficking in New York," James said. "These five individuals allegedly made a business of flooding our communities with dangerous weapons including assault weapons and drugs, putting our city in harm's way. I thank our partners in law enforcement for their invaluable support and for their help to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers."

The defendants have been identified as Luis Alsina, 30, Michael Alsina, 27, Miguel Rodriguez, 32, Rafael Cruz, 22, and Josue Pagan-Adorno, 29. Luis and Michael Alsina were also charged with various counts pertaining to the sale of roughly 250 grams of heroin. 

All of the suspects are from the Bronx, except from Pagan-Adorno, who is from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Credit: New York State Office of the Attorney General.

The investigation into the trafficking ring, dubbed “Operation Iron Empire,” included physical and electronic surveillance, along with undercover operations. During the course of the surveillance, the defendants repeatedly referenced their ability to obtain guns from Pennsylvania and bring them to New York to be sold.

According to the indictment, Michael Alsina acted as a broker between his firearms suppliers and undercover officers, to whom he sold firearms and/or ammunition on ten occasions between June 22, 2019 and November 12, 2019. Luis Alsina provided the firearms and/or ammunition to Michael Alsina for seven of those ten sales and also sold firearms directly to undercover officers on three other occasions from June 22, 2019 through December 27, 2019.  Rafael Cruz supplied two firearms for sales brokered by Michael Alsina, while Josue Pagan-Adorno and Miguel Rodriguez transported firearms for sale to undercover officers.

The indictment also alleges that Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina combined to sell approximately 250 grams of heroin to undercover officers on four occasions spanning from August 7, 2019 through September 5, 2019.

Credit: New York State Office of the Attorney General.

Officials say the five defendants were charged with Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and Conspiracy for their participation in the illegal gun trafficking operation. Luis Alsina and Michael Alsina were also charged with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, as well as Conspiracy for their participation in an illegal heroin distribution scheme.

“This case highlights our continuing focus on keeping illegal firearms, and the threat they pose to the public, out of New York City,” said New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “I want to thank our NYPD investigators, and our federal and state partners, for working together to stop these defendants from allegedly selling guns and drugs on the streets of the Bronx.”

If conviced, Luis and Michael Alsina face a maximum of 25 years in prison.  Miguel Rodriguez and Rafael Cruz each face a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted, and Josue Pagan-Adorno faces a maximum of 7 years in prison if convicted.


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