Two brothers, two uncles accused of trafficking cocaine to Italy

Story highlights

  • One brother is arrested, but the other is still being sought
  • One uncle is already being held in an unrelated case, but the other is at large
  • The four relatives are among nine people indicted
  • The drug ring also allegedly laundered money through the Dominican Republic
Two brothers and two of their uncles are among nine people indicted on allegations of distributing cocaine to Italy and trafficking within the United States the same drug as well as methamphetamine, federal prosecutors in California announced Wednesday.
The drug-trafficking ring also allegedly laundered money through the Dominican Republic, authorities said.
One brother, Rafael Urena, 27, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, was arrested Wednesday morning, but his brother Milton, 29, of the Dominican Republic, is still being sought by authorities, according to a statement by the office U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles.
An uncle, Francisco Javier Vargas-Oseguera, 51, was already in federal custody in Seattle, Washington, facing a federal charge of allegedly possessing eight pounds of methamphetamine in an unrelated case, authorities said.
Another uncle, Leonel Urena-Partida, 49, of Guadalajara, Mexico, is accused of conspiring to transport cocaine to Italy and is being sought by authorities, the prosecutor's office said.
Federal authorities used undercover agents and wiretaps intercepting phone calls, text messages and communications through BlackBerry Messenger, the prosecutor's office said. The probe seized about 40 kilograms, or 88 pounds, of cocaine being smuggled into Italy from the Dominican Republic and Mexico, authorities said.
The investigation also uncovered the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine throughout the United States through the use of vehicles with hidden compartments, authorities said.
Authorities accuse members of the drug-trafficking ring of laundering drug money from the Dominican Republic to Fontana, California, and Rancho Cucamonga by means of Western Union wire transfers.
The indictment accuses eight defendants -- including the two brothers and two uncles -- of conspiracy to distribute cocaine to Italy and accuses the four relatives and two more defendants of conspiracy of domestic distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine, authorities said.
The indictment also accuses "various defendants" of the distribution of approximately one pound of methamphetamine, three counts of use of a communication facility in committing a felony drug offense, and conspiracy to launder money, the prosecutor's office said.