Camden drug kingpin gets 35 years Luis "Tun Tun" Figueroa's gang sold more than a ton of cocaine and ran the notorious "Alley" drug market. Camden drug kingpin sentenced to 35 years

Posted: March 28, 2003

CAMDEN — A leader of a violent gang that operated Camden's most notorious drug market was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court for his role in distributing more than a ton of cocaine.

Luis "Tun Tun" Figueroa, 37, blew a kiss and whispered, "esta bien [it's all right]," to his crying mother before the sentencing hearing.

Figueroa was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison by Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez for his role in the Rivera gang.

A federal jury determined on Feb. 10 that the drug organization of Figueroa and Jose Luis "J.R." Rivera was responsible for distributing more than five kilograms of cocaine at two drug locations.

Figueroa could have received a life sentence. But in an unusual agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, he agreed to waive his right to appeal any and all convictions against him in return for the reduced sentence.

"He was part of a conspiracy that moved well in excess of 1,000 kilograms of cocaine," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Smith said after the hearing.

Twelve other Camden residents either pleaded guilty or were convicted for their roles in the drug organization.

"It's very unusual to see a defendant waiving all his rights, and it's quite unusual for us to agree to a reduction," Smith said. "But in return, it was the best move for us to do. We secured a substantial sentence without having to risk the chance of having a life sentence overturned."

Figueroa and Rivera, 42, were convicted in February 2000 on federal drug distribution charges for operating the "Alley," the city's largest open-air drug market.

The market flourished for more than a decade in East Camden at Bank and Boyd Streets.

The gang also operated a drug site at 33d Street and Westfield Avenue.

During the trial, some witnesses testified that former Mayor Milton Milan had sold drugs before he was elected to City Council in 1995.

Milan was convicted in December 2000 of laundering drug money for the gang as well as for taking mob payoffs and stealing campaign funds. He is serving a seven-year term.

Figueroa, who lived off and on in Camden, was arrested June 4, 1998, at his home in Puerto Rico by agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Figueroa has a status conference scheduled for today before Judge Samuel Natal in Camden County Superior Court to address a murder charge.

He was indicted in August 2000 in the fatal shooting of a rival drug dealer, Manuel "Manolin" DeJesus. DeJesus allegedly had tried to take over the city's drug market, which was raking in millions of dollars.

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 856-779-3838 or samwood@phillynews.com.

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