BOSTON – Five members of a violent criminal enterprise were indicted by a federal grand jury today in connection with a drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed large amounts of cocaine and cocaine base (crack cocaine) throughout Western Massachusetts.
Vicente Gonzalez, 41, of Springfield; Brigham Ocasio-Ramos, 44, of Springfield; Miguel Burgos, 45, of Holyoke; and Khristy Guzman, 37, of Holyoke; were indicted on conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Gonzalez and Ocasio-Ramos were also indicted on possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Willie Watkins, 42, of Springfield, was indicted for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The defendants were arrested and charged on March 10, 2022.
According to court documents, Gonzalez was identified as the leader of a violent criminal enterprise operating in Hampden County. During the investigation, controlled purchases and intercepted communications between Gonzalez and his co-conspirators revealed that, beginning in or about July 2021, the defendants allegedly prepared and trafficked large amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine in the Holyoke and Springfield areas.
In furtherance of the trafficking activity, it is alleged that the enterprise used violence and threats of violence to control Gonzalez’s territory in Holyoke. For example, court documents allege that in July 2021, Gonzalez, Ocasio and other co-conspirators attempted a violent armed kidnapping at the enterprise’s drug sale location in Holyoke. During the incident, Gonzalez and Ocasio allegedly brandished and pointed firearms at the victim and, after the victim fled the building, chased and attempted to detain the victim with the firearms.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to 20 years in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to life in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Holyoke Police Chief David Pratt; and Cheryl C. Clapprood, Superintendent of the Springfield Police Department made the announcement today. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force. Valuable assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police and the Hampden District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil L. Desroches of Rollins’ Springfield Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.