DEA busts already charged brothers on recorded prison call bragging about assault over drug debt

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents recognized the voices of Jeremy Laitan Cruz and Jonovan Michael Cruz in three recorded prison phone calls where the brothers allegedly conspired to take out a hit on a man over a drug deal, and then bragged about it when the job was done.

Recently-unsealed federal court documents in a criminal drug case filed and sealed on March 22, 2024 against both Cruzes and Eric Shaun Cruz include an April 30 DEA application to the U.S. District Court of Guam for a warrant of arrest for Jeremy Cruz. The DEA agent’s affidavit describes a conspiracy by Jonovan, who was in jail at the time, and Jeremy to coordinate an attack against an unnamed alleged meth dealer whom Jeremy described to Jonovan as a man who owed them $10,000 for drugs.

“[L]et’s greenlight that m—–f—– homeboy,” Jonovan allegedly says to his brother in an 8:33 p.m. April 16, 2024 phone call on the Guam Department of Corrections-operated Pay-Tel system. Jonovan allegedly called the hit on the unnamed dealer after Jeremy told him he “let my friend run ten grand, but he still hasn’t been back.

Guam Police Department records filed in the federal court case show that GPD received a call from a homeowner on Acho Latte Street in Dededo less than two hours after Jonovan allegedly called the hit. The reporting citizen, who repeatedly refused to answer questions, telling police he did not want to be involved in what happened, told police that moments earlier a bloodied man stumbled into his yard and sat on a plastic chair.

Police found that man, who was covered in blood, his left eye swollen shut, nose bleeding out, both ears bleeding, blood constantly pouring out of his mouth, lacerations and swelling to his upper and lower lips, a four-inch U-shaped laceration on his left cheek, a two-inch laceration on his right cheek, profuse bleeding on both cheeks, and clothes and exposed body soaked in blood and dirt. The responding officer tried to get information out of the victim, but he struggled to speak. He held up four fingers, to which the officer asked and he confirmed that it meant he was attacked by four people.

Through the course of the investigation, detectives learned from a source that one of the four men was Jeremy Laitan Cruz.

After the victim was taken to the hospital, according to police records, a GPD investigator followed a blood trail from the reporting citizen’s home to a nearby ranch, where he found what appeared to be the location where the victim was assaulted on the ground. Next to that was a rug where suspected methamphetamine was “scattered” and near it, a “torn clear resealable bag.”

In the last of the three recorded phone calls (recorded at 11:37 a.m. on April 21, 2024, five days after the beating) between the Cruz brothers mentioned in the DEA affidavit for the arrest warrant, the federal court document states, “Jeremy tells Jonovan that he confronted [victim] because he gave [victim] money to ‘run,’ but [victim] took the money and lied to Jeremy saying that he [victim] got raided. Jeremy tells Jonovan that he ‘pegged him for my money bro, straight up…I did what I had to do.’ Jeremy continued saying, approximately: ‘I don’t want to say it on the phone bro, but he’s in the hospital…broken jaw.’ Jeremy continued explaining why he had to assault [victim] saying, approximately, ‘that guy I f—– up, he owed me. Come on bro…I just wanted my money bro and he didn’t want to give it.’

“Describing the confrontation with [victim], Jeremy told Jonovan: ‘All we asked for was the stuff back. But do you know how selfish this guy is? He tore the pound so he won’t make us get it. How selfish is that bro.’ Jonovan responded, approximately, ‘they got what they deserved.'”

Jeremy Cruz joined his brother in federal detention at the Hagatna DOC facility on May 2, according to information from the Guam DOC.

The now-unsealed federal court records in the case stem from a story Kandit broke on April 24, when the court unsealed the first of the documents in the case: a warrant signed on October 18 last year by Judge Michael Bordallo that allowed the DEA to search the Facebook accounts of Jeremy, Jonovan, Eric Cruz, Vincent Cruz, and Leocardia Mae Palacios, with probable cause found that the five were involved in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. This case indicates that the recent Pay-Tel slip, which provided the DEA with the probable cause to arrest Jeremy was not the first electronic communications error the alleged conspirators have made in this case.

The probable cause that started the entire investigation stemmed from an apparent Facebook posting accident last year, as reported by Kandit.

The DEA uncovered the alleged drug trafficking organization after one of its alleged members (may have accidentally) posted a picture of a mail package containing 234 grams of methamphetamine on a Facebook profile. He took the post down within minutes of posting, according to evidence uncovered by the DEA and exposed in a recently released application for a search warrant, but by then it was too late.

A confidential informant for the DEA took a screen shot of the post before it was taken down, sent it to the DEA.  The picture included the U.S. Postal Service tracking number. That picture provided the DEA probable cause for a search warrant to intercept the package and open it. It contained 234 grams, or half a pound of meth.

That discovery gave the DEA probable cause to search the Facebook accounts of two suspects. The messages in those accounts gave the DEA probable cause to search other people’s Facebook accounts.

All of them, according to the application’s contents, contained conversations of alleged members of the drug dealing ring from Dededo openly discussing their trafficking activities, and the names of those involved.

The DEA began looking into Jeremy Cruz in March 2023, when a confidential source provided the DEA information that Jeremy Cruz was a drug dealer, according to the application. Nothing is said in the application about activities between March and September 8, 2023. That was the date the picture of the drug package was posted on Jonovan Cruz’s Facebook profile. That posting led to multiple search warrants that produced evidence – conversations of alleged drug trafficking activities – among the five named participants.

Among those conversations include what appear to be a drug transaction between Jonavan Cruz and Vincent Cruz for an ounce of meth for $1,500. The Facebook conversation included a picture that appears to show multiple 100 dollar bills and rocks of methamphetamine.

“Every day I’m hustling,” Vincent Cruz tells Jonovan Cruz in the July 28, 2023 Facebook conversation.

From August 29 to September 8, 2023, Jonavan Cruz and Eric Cruz’s Facebook messenger accounts contained messages indicating drug trafficking activities.

“I got the stuff already packed for you,” Eric Cruz wrote to Jonovan Cruz.

“How much money,” Jonavan replies.

ERIC CRUZ: I’m gonA give you half a p just give me 5grand. 4grand would be good

JONOVAN CRUZ: Bro me n ray is gonna half it

ERIC CRUZ: How bout jerm. Share with him to bro

The following day, September 9, Eric Cruz asks Jonovan about rumors that the picture of the meth mail package appeared on Facebook.

ERIC CRUZ: Bro wats going on wit rumors about a package on facebook

JONOVAN CRUZ: Ay bro tell who ever told u that fuk off Aight. Cus I only told ray about it just him

ERIC CRUZ: Leo was the one that seen it… [Then on September 12]: Yo bro that package maybe bad it’s supposed to be delivered today

That same day, another DEA agent intercepted one of the recorded phone calls made by a Guam Department of Corrections inmate – Muen Geun Kim – to a cellular number known to belong to and be used by Jeremy Cruz. A non-verbatim transcription of part of that phone call included:

“I was expecting something today but I think it’s a no go because my brother put it on his story and everybody saw his story and that’s why we don’t want to pick it up.”

“I believe that Jonovan mistakenly posted the picture containing the tracking information of the drug package to his Facebook story instead of privately messaging it to a private chat,” the DEA agent wrote in the application to federal court. “Additionally, I believe that Jeremy was referring to the same package during his conversation with Muen Geun Kim.”

On August 25 last year, Jeremy sent Jonovan a Pacific Daily News story on Facebook messenger. The story was about two defendants facing drug charges after 1.5 ounces of meth were found following a raid at a Dededo home.

JEREMY CRUZ: Just a heads up cuz I know my name got drop. Trying not keeping anything in da house bro. I’m clearing out rn and I ain’t gonna do anything for a lil bit bro .. I’m sending all my buyers to you cuz where all clearing out over here and angel don’t want to do anything here.

JONOVAN CRUZ: K bro thank.

Jeremy provided the tracking number of the intercepted package to Jonovan asking if he can ‘chk if that’s correct.’

“Eric is checking,” Jonovan replied on September 10.

On September 25, Jonovan Cruz messaged the Facebook account named Leocardia Mae Palacios, “Give me the names.” Palacios replied with a screenshot containing four names.

LEOCARDIA PALACIOS: Give 4 people $2121 tell them to send 2000 and the 121 is for the sending fee. U need to give each person 1 name and the place where it is being sent to is Sacramento California. The remaining should be 1516 let the 5Th person send $1395 cause the remaining will be for the sending fee. And when that’s all done get the paper work from ur people’s. Just to be safe. Thank you.

JONOVAN CRUZ: Am never safe bro am carrying dope too.

Unsealed federal case against Jonovan, Jeremy, and Eric Cruz

At the time Kandit reported on the Facebook warrant in April, there were no federal court records publicly visible showing that any of the alleged conspirators had been indicted. That was because, at the time, the case – filed on March 22 this year – was sealed. The sealing of cases in federal court often is an indication that either releasing information in the case would tend to jeopardize active investigations, or that one of more of the people facing charges is cooperating against others.

According to the federal magistrates complaint against the three men, the case involves the activities of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) spanning Guam, Florida, and California. In fact, five days after the Guam case was filed, a case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Tampa) was filed against Eric Cruz. One of the documents in that case remains under seal, however according to the Tampa court docket, on the same day Eric Cruz was arrested in Guam for the Florida federal charge, he submitted a financial affidavit, was appointed a lawyer, and his case dismissed in Florida after it was transferred to the District Court of Guam. The brevity of the case suggests some type of coordination, if not cooperation, which is not uncommon.

The now-unsealed March 22 case confirms the information contained in the October 18, 2023 warrant, and contains new information – seized Facebook messenger conversations – revealing an alleged conspiracy to move meth by the kilograms from Florida to Guam.

Each of the Cruzes were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute large quantities of meth, and two counts of attempted possession with intent to traffic the drug. Each of them face the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in federal prison if convicted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *