Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Drug-Ring Arrests Linked to Cold Case

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Drug-Ring Arrests Linked to Cold Case

Article excerpt

To the outside world, Wilfredo Molina was a hardworking barber who was supporting his wife and their five children in suburban Englewood, where the family lived quietly in a modest two-story brick home on the west side.

But police now say the 29-year-old Molina, who was shot to death in his driveway in 2004, had ties to another family -- one that authorities say dealt in drugs, guns, money laundering and murder. Molina, as Englewood police suspected all along, walked in the same ruthlessly violent world as his killers, according to federal authorities, who unsealed a 40-count indictment this week charging three men in Molina's killing.

The suspected killers were among nine men facing racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with a recently smashed organized crime ring that stretched from the Dominican Republic to upper Manhattan and ran tons of marijuana into the United States through Florida while laundering millions of dollars, federal authorities announced Thursday.

Englewood police Detective Lt. Timothy Torell, the lead investigator before federal authorities took charge, said Thursday the eight-year wait made the arrests especially "gratifying."

"No matter who the victim is or what the circumstances, the police are not going to stop on a homicide," he said.

On Tuesday, federal authorities charged 39-year-old Manuel Geovanny Rodriguez-Perez, the reputed ringleader, 30-year-old Miguel Cantres-Sanjurjo and his 29-year-old cousin, Felipe Cantres- Sanjurjo, in Molina's death. Each face charges of murder for hire, conspiracy to commit murder for hire, murder in aid of racketeering, murder while engaged in narcotic trafficking and murder with a firearm during and in relation to drug trafficking.

Rodriguez-Perez is accused of killing six men, including Molina. Rodriguez-Perez has been in federal custody since October 2010, when he was arrested as part of a vast marijuana trafficking ring involving more than 50 people, including Roc-A-Fella Records founder Kareem Burke, who was sentenced in June to five years in prison.

The cousins face additional murder charges in connection with the slayings of two other men as well as attempted murder, racketeering and marijuana trafficking charges.

Felipe Cantres-Sanjurjo was taken into custody in Puerto Rico and turned over to federal agents. Miguel Cantres-Sanjurjo was already in federal custody on an unrelated robbery conviction.

"These nine defendants were part of a sweeping enterprise that has the blood of six people on its hands," Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said in a statement. "Thanks to the continued dedication and commitment of our law enforcement partners, we are now able to bring them to justice."

Molina grew up in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, where he opened Millennium All Star Barber Shop on Nagle Avenue, near 196th Street, in October 2000, The Record reported at the time of his murder. …

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