Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Delano A. Reid, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and William J. Bratton, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that JOHNNY CEDEÑO was found guilty Monday of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, murder-for-hire, and murder in connection with a narcotics conspiracy for his role in the murder of a 16-year-old girl. CEDEÑO was convicted after a six-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet. CEDEÑO is the 20th defendant connected to the “Solid Gold” drug crew to be convicted for acts of violence and/or drug dealing in the Bronx in the 1990’s.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Thanks to the efforts of the dedicated agents, detectives, and prosecutors who relentlessly pursued justice in this and related investigations, eight previously unsolved cold-case murders, including the tragic murder of an innocent 16-year-old girl, have now been solved and prosecuted. We hope seeing justice done is some balm to Carmen Diaz’s family, who lost her way too soon.”
ATF Special-Agent-in-Charge Delano A. Reid said: “It's nearly impossible for me to convey how gratified I am to see this long and complicated case come to a close. It was only through the dogged determination and dedication of the assigned investigators and prosecutors that we can now realize the extent of the complexities and obstacles this investigation presented. Cedeno's conviction was a long time coming but the victim's family can finally derive closure from the swift conviction and hopefully can find solace in the fact that once law enforcement has you identified and targeted, your days of freedom are surely numbered.”
NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “It is our hope that this conviction brings some comfort to the victim’s family who senselessly lost a loved one to gun violence. We thank our federal law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly to see this individual brought to justice”
According to the evidence introduced at trial, other proceedings in this case, and documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court:
JOHNNY CEDEÑO was a drug dealer who sold large quantities of crack cocaine on Bathgate Avenue in the early 90’s. He pled guilty to a firearms charge in the summer of 1994 and, while serving his sentence in connection with that charge, hired members of a drug crew that called itself “Solid Gold” to murder a rival drug dealer from Bathgate Avenue. While attempting to carry out CEDEÑO’s orders, the shooter shot and killed Carmen Diaz, a 16-year-old girl, who was sitting on the front stoop of her apartment building. Carmen Diaz sustained 11 gunshot wounds and died in the hospital three weeks later. The drug rival who was the original target of the shooting sustained injuries but did not die.
In addition to selling enormous quantities of crack cocaine, CEDEÑO and his criminal associates in Solid Gold committed numerous acts of violence, including murder, in the early 1990’s, in the areas of Bathgate Avenue and 178th/179th Streets, and 173rd Street and Boston Road, in the Bronx. Many of those crimes remained unsolved for almost 20 years. After a series of prosecutions in the Southern District of New York, culminating in this trial, 20 members and associates of Solid Gold have now been convicted for their involvement in the organization’s drug dealing activities and a total of eight murders.
JOHNNY CEDEÑO, 58, of the Bronx, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. Judge Sweet has not yet set a sentencing date.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the ATF and the NYPD.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Laurie A. Korenbaum and Brooke E. Cucinella are in charge of the prosecution.