Five Defendants From Northeast Georgia Drug Gang Convicted of Racketeering, Murder, Drug, and Firearms Crimes

Feb 25, 2008, 00:00 ET from U.S. Department of Justice

    ROME, Ga., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Five defendants were
 convicted today by a jury in federal district court of criminal charges
 that include racketeering, murder, attempted murder, assault,
 methamphetamine trafficking, and numerous related firearms offenses. The
 jury convicted the defendants after six weeks of trial and two days of
 deliberations. The five defendants were the leaders of a racketeering
 enterprise that originally included 30 defendants in the first indictment.
     United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of today's verdict, "The
 truly violent character of this drug gang, which operated out of the small
 town of Cedartown, Georgia, is demonstrated by the fact that the
 racketeering convictions are based on several violent crimes, including
 five murders, attempted murder, and kidnapping, as well as drug
 trafficking. The five murders for which defendants Villenas-Reyes and Shane
 Rosser were convicted were 50% of the total number of murders that occurred
 in Floyd and Polk counties in 2003." Nahmias added, "The use of federal
 racketeering and drug statutes to attack the leadership of an organization
 is important, especially with an organization such as this that operated
 across local and state jurisdictional lines. Indeed, this prosecution
 resulted from the excellent combined investigative efforts of local, state,
 and federal law enforcement agencies."
     FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, "Getting inside of
 these violence-driven gangs is a very difficult challenge for law
 enforcement agencies when conducting such investigations. The skills and
 expertise of the agents and officers brought together from the many varied
 agencies involved was the key to the successful outcome of this
 investigation. The FBI remains committed to working with its law
 enforcement partners in the aggressive investigation and prosecution of
 these types of criminal organizations."
     "The guilty verdict has made it clear that those involved in criminal
 activity and responsible for terrorizing communities will be brought to
 justice," said Kenneth Smith, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Office of
 Investigations in Atlanta. "ICE and its federal, state, and local
 counterparts will continue working together to dismantle organized crime
 rings that threaten public safety."
     GBI Director Vernon Keenan said, "The GBI's priority is addressing the
 violent crime problem in smaller communities across Georgia, and we are
 pleased with the GBI's role in the successful investigation and prosecution
 of those involved in this methamphetamine trafficking gang. The cooperation
 among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in this effort was
 outstanding and was paramount to the successful conclusion of this case."
     According to Nahmias and evidence at trial: Daniel Villenas-Reyes, 36,
 MARCO Antonio Cordero, 33, Sammy Duque, 34, and Juan Duque, 31, all of
 Cedartown; and Houston Shane Rosser, 36, of Centre, Alabama, were all
 convicted of conspiring to engage in a racketeering enterprise in Polk and
 Floyd counties in Georgia between March 2000 and December 2006. The
 evidence at trial proved that the enterprise trafficked methamphetamine and
 protected its territory, enforced discipline among members, and collected
 debts through a pattern of racketeering activities that included the
 murders of five people, attempted murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping,
 transporting and harboring illegal aliens, drug trafficking, and arson. The
 defendants were also convicted of conspiring to distribute and distributing
 methamphetamine and cocaine.
     Daniel Villenas-Reyes was convicted of shooting and killing Cesar
 Juarez Vasquez, Arturo Torrez Ventura, and a woman who has never been
 identified, in a house at 506 7th Street, Cedartown, on September 16, 2003,
 and setting the house on fire to hide the evidence of the murders. Evidence
 at trial showed that Villenas-Reyes committed the murders after residents
 of the house refused to pay him for highly diluted methamphetamine that he
 had supplied them. Villenas-Reyes was also convicted of participating in
 the shooting of Jesse Vargas in Rome on December 17, 2002, several counts
 of selling methamphetamine, and several counts of using firearms in
 connection with crimes of violence and drug trafficking offenses.
     In addition to the racketeering and drug trafficking offenses, Houston
 Shane Rosser was convicted of shooting and killing T.J. Agan and
 Christopher Fortenberry in their home in southern Floyd County on March 27,
 2003. Evidence at trial showed that Rosser killed Agan over a
 methamphetamine debt, and he killed Fortenberry after finding that Agan was
 not alone. Fortenberry became Agan's roommate a few weeks before the
 murders occurred. Josh Darrell Smith went to trial with the other five
 defendants on January 14, 2008. But he pleaded guilty midway through the
 trial and testified that he heard Rosser shoot Agan and watched Rosser
 shoot Fortenberry. Another eyewitness who had accompanied Rosser to Agan's
 home also testified against him.
     Marco Antonio Cordero was also convicted of pistol-whipping a victim
 whom Cordero suspected of stealing methamphetamine, selling methamphetamine
 while he was escaped from the Polk County Jail in the late winter of 2003,
 and being a convicted felon and an illegal alien who possessed several
 firearms on different occasions while he was a fugitive. Other evidence
 presented at trial showed that Cordero, Villenas-Reyes and Sammy Duque were
 previously deported to their native country of Mexico before and during the
 operation of their criminal enterprise, but illegally re-entered the United
     Sammy Duque and his brother, Juan Duque, were also convicted of selling
 methamphetamine, and Juan Duque was convicted of participating with Cordero
 in the pistol-whipping of an innocent victim and using a firearm to commit
 that crime of violence.
     Evidence presented at trial also showed that Polk County and Floyd
 County law enforcement agencies assisted each other in investigating the
 five murders when a witness came forward in January 2004 and explained how
 the killings were part of the violent operation of a single methamphetamine
 trafficking enterprise that operated out of Cedartown. The FBI and U.S.
 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) then assembled a multi-agency
 task force that investigated the wide-sweeping enterprise and led to the
 prosecution of thirty alleged enterprise members. In addition to the five
 defendants convicted today, 15 other co-defendants have pleaded guilty to
 the racketeering charges in the indictment. Ten more defendants await
 trial. No trial date has yet been set.
     Villenas-Reyes, Cordero, Rosser, Sammy Duque and Juan Duque face
 maximum sentences of life in federal prison and fines of at least
 $4,250,000. There is no parole in the federal criminal system. Their
 sentencing is scheduled for May 9, 2008, at 1:30 p.m. before United States
 District Judge Murphy.
     This case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI, ICE, and the
 GBI, with substantial assistance from the Georgia State Fire Marshal's
 Arson Unit, the Floyd County Police Department, the Polk County Sheriff's
 Office, the Polk County Police Department and the Cedartown Police
     Assistant United States Attorneys Kim S. Dammers and William G. Traynor
 are prosecuting the case.
     For further information please contact David E. Nahmias (pronounced
 NAH-me-us), United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive
 Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs
 Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address
 for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District
 of Georgia is

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice