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Narcotics Trafficker Faces Life in Prison for Murder of Witness

This news story was published on September 29, 2012.
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WASHINGTON, DC—Narcotics trafficker Edison Burgos-Montes of Yauco, Puerto Rico, faces life in prison following his conviction on two capital murder counts, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

On August 29, 2012, Burgos-Montes, 42, was convicted on four counts following a five-month trial before U.S. District Judge Jay García-Gregory in San Juan: conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine, murdering a witness to prevent testimony in an official proceeding, and murdering a witness in retaliation for providing information to law enforcement.

The counts of conviction on capital murder charges necessitated a separate penalty phase of the trial. That phase began on September 12, 2012, and concluded after a week and a half of testimony on September 19, 2012. The jury was unable to reach a sentencing verdict after two and a half days of deliberation, so a sentence of life in prison will be imposed. There is no parole in the federal system.

As the evidence at trial showed, Burgos-Montes killed Madelyn Semidey-Morales—a government witness and informant and his consensual partner—to retaliate against her for providing information to law enforcement about his unlawful narcotics trafficking and to prevent her from providing authorities with additional information.

Burgos-Montes will be formally sentenced on all four charges on a date to be determined.

The penalty phase of the case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Julie Mosley and Jeffrey Kahan of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Capital Case Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcela Mateo of the District of Puerto Rico. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Puerto Rico Police Department, with assistance from the FBI’s San Juan Field Office Evidence Recovery Team.

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