Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / News / Rochester man admits to drug conspiracy involving 1998 murder

Rochester man admits to drug conspiracy involving 1998 murder

Angelo Cruz, 39, of Rochester, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine, while also admitting he helped in the October 1998 murder of Francisco Santos on the Seneca Nation of Indians Reservation in Erie County.
The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years and a maximum of life, and a $10 million fine.
“This case — like so many before it — demonstrates the success of using federal tools to combat violent gang activity,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. “We will continue to be engaged in such investigations when appropriate situations arise.”
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Everardo A. Rodriguez, the murder was part of a drug trafficking conspiracy in the Rochester area, which included cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana, from 1993 to March 2011.
Santos was a member of the drug distribution conspiracy and was believed to have stolen drugs and money from other members of the conspiracy. In retaliation and to prevent Santos from testifying against the co-conspirator on an assault charge, Cruz admitted that he and a group of other co-conspirators found Santos and drove him to the reservation where Santos was stabbed to death and buried in a shallow grave. Cruz admitted to seeing Santos being stabbed while he was acting as a lookout.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 4 before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr.
Also charged in the Santos murder: James Kendrick, born in 1972; Pablo Plaza, born in 1976; and Janine Plaza Pierce, the mother of Kendrick and the older Plaza.  The trial of remaining defendants is expected to take place later this year and next June.