Three members of a violent New York City organized crime ring were charged this week in the 2004 ambush killing of an Englewood father gunned down in his driveway, city police said Thursday.
A 40-count federal indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses the syndicate, known as the “Rodriguez Enterprise,” with committing six murders, trafficking tons of marijuana and laundering millions of dollars, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
The gang’s alleged leader, Manuel Geovanny Rodriguez-Perez, along with Felipe Cantres-Sanjurjo, and his cousin Miguel Cantres-Sanjurjo were charged in the May 3, 2004 murder of 29-year-old city resident Wilfredo Molina. An Upper Manhattan barber shop owner, Molina was ambushed after he stepped outside to check on the family dog at his West Forest Avenue home, near the Teaneck border, police said.
Molina’s wife and young children were home during the killing, said Englewood Detective Lt. Tim Torell, an investigator who worked the case. Authorities suspected the attack was targeted and Molina was involved in New York City’s drug trade.
Torell and a detective from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office tracked down leads in the case from Miami to Boston.
“We don’t investigate anything less because the victim might have been involved in illegal activities,” Torell said. “We went all over for this case.”
They shared information with federal authorities, who were also probing some of the gang’s players.
“It was not one piece of evidence,” Torell told Patch. “It was a lot of hard work by a lot of different agencies.”
In all, the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Indictment charges alleged ringleader Rodriguez-Perez with five killings between 1997 and 2006, and five attempted murders. Other charges include gun crimes, marijuana trafficking and money laundering in New York, Florida, and the Dominican Republic.
Rodriguez-Perez was already in federal custody and was charged in October 2010 as part of marijuana ring that trafficking the drug from California and Florida to New York, federal prosecutors said. Also arrested in that takedown was Roc-A-Fella Records founder Kareem Burke, who was sentenced in June.
All nine accused “Rodriguez Enterprise” members are either in custody or on bail from prior arrests, according to federal authorities.
“This organization allegedly placed their goal of profiting from the mass distribution of narcotics throughout New York City above all else, most importantly the regard for human life,” said Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes, Jr. of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New York.
Federal authorities credited the work of Englewood police and prosecutor’s investigators in leading to the indictment.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said the indictment “illustrates the grim nexus between illegal drug sales, money laundering and deadly violence.”