Friday, January 31, 2014

U.S. Marshals Arrest of Fugitive in Winston-Salem Results in Drugs and Weapons Charges

Winston-Salem, NC – Yesterday morning at 10:30 AM, Tyron Keith Haskins, a 31 year old, Black Male was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force (JFTF), the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD). Haskins was wanted on an outstanding Federal Supervised Release Violation warrant by the U.S. Marshals in the Southern District of New York.

The Southern District of New York developed information indicating Haskins was residing in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina area. JFTF quickly joined the hunt in the apprehension of Haskins. Investigators set up surveillance in the apartment complex and Haskins was taken into custody without incident at his residence of 1045 West Bank Street, Apartment C. Members of the JFTF obtained and executed a search warrant for Haskins’ apartment resulting in the seizure of approximately 260 grams of Heroin, approximately 610 grams of marijuana, assorted drug paraphernalia, 6 firearms to include assault style firearms, assorted ammunition, magazines, and holsters and approximately $180.00 in US currency.

Lieutenant J.J. Edwards with the Special Operations Division/SWAT Commander, spokesman for the WSPD stated, “With regards to this investigation by the US Marshals and the WSPD detectives, their combined efforts yielded one of the most significant seizures of Heroin in this jurisdiction in the recent past. In addition to the narcotics seizure, the 6 firearms, two of which were listed as stolen, and the seizure of ballistic vests will have a significant impact on the safety of everyone in the community. I would like to commend all involved for their excellent work.”

The U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force for the Middle District of North Carolina is comprised of investigators from the U.S. Marshals Service, Chapel Hill Police Department, Durham Police Department, Greensboro Police Department, High Point Police Department, Winston Salem Police Department, Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.


Heroin Glassines Branded 'NFL', 'Government Shutdown' and 'iPhone'

JAN 31 - (New York) – James J. Hunt, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division (DEA), Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Joseph A. D’Amico, Superintendent of the New York State Police, announced the discovery of multi-million dollar, high-volume heroin packaging location at 2910 Wallace Ave. Apt. #2E, Bronx, NY, and the seizure of 13 kilograms (33 pounds) of heroin worth $8 million last night.

On January 30th, 2014, a team from the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force – comprised of DEA Special Agents, New York City Police Department Detectives and New York State Police Investigators – conducted surveillance in the vicinity of 2910 Wallace Ave., in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx, as part of an ongoing investigation into heroin distribution organizations operating in the Northeast region of the United States.   At approximately 4:30 p.m., agents and investigators observed an individual carrying two bags, one of which contained a green box. The individual, later identified as CRISTINO THEN, entered 2910 Wallace Ave. and walked up the stairs. Shortly thereafter THEN was observed exiting the building empty handed.  Agents and officers stopped THEN to investigate his explanation as to why he was at the building. 

Simultaneously, another individual was observed climbing out of a fifth floor window of the same building onto a fire escape. Agents apprehended this individual, later identified as AUGUSTIN RIVERA, aka “JOSE THEN,” as he attempted to flee.  Subsequently, Task Force members used the fire escape to access the same window, which was open and entered a fifth floor apartment. Inside, they found a fully operational heroin mill. Agents and officers seized approximately 13 kilograms of heroin (33 pounds) and hundreds of thousands of individual “glassine” bags stamped with numerous brand names, including “NFL”, “government shutdown,” “iPhone”, and “Olympics 2012.” Also recovered from the heroin mill were scales, 18 coffee grinders, rubber bands, baking soda and face masks. In typical heroin mill operations, coffee grinders are often used to cut pure heroin with a dilutant, such as baking soda. Individual dosages are then packaged into small glassine bags for retail distribution.

The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor is prosecuting RIVERA and THEN. A criminal complaint charges both defendants with one count each of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree. RIVERA and THEN are expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, 100 Centre St., this afternoon.

DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, "Heroin is pummeling the northeast, leaving addiction, overdoses and fear in its wake. The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force faced this threat with uniformed police work which resulted in the dismantlement of a heroin mill located in the Bronx that had resources to distribute over half a million heroin glassines throughout the streets of New York."
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said, “A seizure of this size should open everyone’s eyes to the magnitude of the heroin problem confronting us. We’ve heard from public officials throughout the Northeast of soaring addiction within their own localities. Last night we seized 33 pounds of heroin in the Bronx, which could be transformed into millions of user-ready glassine packages, saturating the region. The brand names used are tied to upcoming events, indicating the savvy and sophistication of the heroin distribution ring.”

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said, “Thanks to the efforts of the investigators in this case an operation that would have led to the sale and distribution of illegal drugs on the streets of New York City has been thwarted.”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “The hard work and partnership between the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York State Police, New York City Police Department and New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor is responsible for preventing a large amount of a highly addictive and dangerous drug from making into our communities. These individuals were operating a multi-million dollar heroin mill out of an apartment with plans to distribute this illegal drug on our streets. I commend the considerable efforts and dedication of our agency personnel and our law enforcement partners who were able to pinpoint this drug activity and put a stop to this drug operation.


Augustin Rivera, aka “Jose Then”
2170 University Ave.
Bronx, NY
CPCS 1st - 1 ct
CPCS 3rd - 1 ct
Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia 2nd – 1 ct

Cristino Then
2230 Woodhull Ave.
Bronx, NY
CPCS 1st - 1 ct
CPCS 3rd - 1 ct
Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia 2nd – 1 ct
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty

Attempted Murder Suspect Arrested

Roswell, NM - On Wednesday, January 29 officers from the Roswell Police Department, and deputies from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office apprehended Leroy Acosta. Acosta was added to the United States Marshals Service District of New Mexico, New Mexico’s Most Wanted program on January 14th 2014. Leroy Acosta was charged with attempting to commit premeditated murder, possession of cocaine, tampering with evidence, possession, delivery or manufacture of drug paraphernalia, and failure to appear. His charges stemmed from a November 2013 shooting in the 200 block of East Frazier Street in Roswell.

Leader of Alleged Sports Betting Ring Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Charges

Joseph Vito Mastronardo Jr., 63, of Meadowbrook, Pa., pleaded guilty today to conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise (RICO), conducting an illegal gambling business, four counts of conspiring to launder money, eight counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, transmitting wagering information and aggravated structuring of cash deposits.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Zane D. Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.

The guilty plea stems from Mastronardo’s leadership of the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization, a multi-million dollar sports betting operation with bettors throughout the U.S.   No sentencing date has been scheduled.

Mastronardo is one of 19 defendants charged in the case.  Three defendants were charged by information and 16 defendants were charged by indictment.   In the indictment, 15 of the 16 defendants were charged with conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise and conducting an illegal gambling business.  With today’s guilty plea, 11 of the 16 defendants charged in the indictment have pleaded guilty.

At its peak, the organization had more than 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars a year.   According to the indictment, between Jan. 1, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2011, the organization used websites ( and ) and telephone numbers that allowed bettors to place sports bets on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing and other sporting events.  Residents of Costa Rica staffed the websites and answered the telephones.   In 2006 and 2010, law enforcement seized over $2 million of cash that Mastronardo had hidden in and around his home, including in specially built secret compartments and in PVC pipes that were buried in his backyard.

Mastronardo ran the organization by using the Internet, telephone, Skype, e-mail, U.S. mail, and in-person communication.  The Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization laundered the gambling proceeds by using a check cashing agency, two private bank accounts and numerous international bank accounts.   On occasion, Mastronardo also provided instructions so a losing bettor could pay a gambling debt through a charitable donation.

Mastronardo supervised the agents, sub-agents and office employees and oversaw the websites.   He laundered millions of dollars of betting proceeds, collected debts, and instructed others to collect debts.   Other indicted defendants who have pleaded guilty include: Mastronardo’s son, Joseph F. Mastronardo, who worked as an office employee, collected debts and performed other financial duties; Eric Woehlcke, who worked as an office employee, collected debts and served as a sub-agent; Joseph and Anna Rose Vitelli, who owned J & A Check Cashing, which laundered the gambling proceeds; and Patrick Tronoski, Schuyler Twaddle, Michael Loftus, Michael Squillante, David Rounick and Ronald Gendrachi.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.   It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason P. Bologna of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Kelly Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Partnership Boosts Student Achievement, Participation

By Natalia Thaniel
Department of Defense Education Activity

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 30, 2014 – Havre de Grace High School in Maryland recently honored advanced placement students during a ceremony recognizing exceptional academic achievement , part of a partnership between the Department of Defense Education Activity and the National Math and Science Initiative.

The NMSI Comprehensive AP Program began at the school in 2012and has increased the number of AP students taking the rigorous, college-ready courses.

“DoDEA is proud to be able to share its resources and partner with the NMSI to advance opportunities to excel in math, science and English,” said Kathleen Facon, Chief of Educational Partnership at DODEA. “The relationship between DODEA, NMSI and Havre de Grace High School aims to better prepare children for college and career.”

The school has about 600 students, 18 percent of whom are militarily connected.

“We are very appreciative of NMSI and DODEA for the opportunities they have given our students,” said principal, Jim Reynolds. “This is an opportunity for our students that are achieving in math, science, and English to stand out and be recognized.”

The partnership not only makes advanced placement courses more readily available, it also enables students to attend regular and all-day study sessions and have access to tutoring. The courses are designed to prepare students for college level work.

"I’m planning to go to college so I think the colleges will recognize me better and they would be more willing to accept me,” said 11th-grade advanced placement student, Nicholas Pippin.

Principal Reynolds said he is proud of the accomplishments of the current advanced placement students and he hopes prospective students will see Havre de Grace High School as being synonymous with high achievers and high standards.

When asked what she would tell potential students, 12th grader Kaitlyn Castillo said, “They should take it. It honestly is a great opportunity and you learn so much and you get ready for the next four years during college. And it’s really a benefit because you start understanding more and get more into what you are learning.”

NMSI’s comprehensive advanced placement program fosters sustained academic achievement in high schools across the nation by providing open enrollment in advanced placement math, science and English classes for all students, increased time on task for students through special study sessions, intensive teacher training, support from master teachers and incentives for teachers and students.

DoDEA sponsors participation for more than 40 military-connected schools across the country.

Monday, January 27, 2014

U.S. Marshals Apprehend Waterfront Shooter

Pittsburgh, PA - The United States Marshals Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force (WPAFTF) arrested homicide suspect Paul “Los” Sanders Jr. at approximately 10:40 am this morning at a residence in Wilmerding. Sanders, age 20, was charged by the Allegheny County Police on January 10, 2014 with Criminal Homicide, Robbery and Conspiracy for his role in the shooting death of Imani Porter in a restaurant parking lot at the Waterfront entertainment complex in Munhall. Sanders was also wanted pursuant to an Allegheny County probation violation arrest warrant issued on the same date for the underlying offense of Possession of a Firearm.

The investigation was referred to the U.S. Marshals WPAFTF on January 14, 2014 and was immediately prioritized by task force investigators. Preliminary information indicated Sanders last resided in Wilkinsburg and was known to frequent the Braddock area. Through investigation, WPAFTF members developed critical information which led to his apprehension this morning. Sanders was arrested without incident on the second floor of an apartment in the 300 block of Caldwell Avenue in Wilmerding. Subsequent to his arrest, task force members recovered a quantity of crack cocaine, two digital scales and two cell phones. Additional charges will be filed relative to the narcotics violation. Following his arrest, Sanders was turned over to the custody of Allegheny County Homicide Detectives by task force investigators.

The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force is comprised of officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Sheriffs, and Westmoreland County Sheriff’s. These agencies, along with the United States Attorney’s Office, are participating members of the U.S. Marshals Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force (WPAFTF).