South Florida

Barely out of prison, Army vet returned to buying club drug Molly from China, feds say

Jorge Ramon Hernandez, a former Army soldier, who has been indicted on allegations of importing Molly to South Florida from China. He posted this photo on his public Instagram account.
Jorge Ramon Hernandez, a former Army soldier, who has been indicted on allegations of importing Molly to South Florida from China. He posted this photo on his public Instagram account. Instagram

Jorge Hernandez was barely out of federal prison when the tattooed Army veteran returned to the Miami drug hustle that got him into trouble in the first place: importing Molly from China, according to authorities.

Hernandez used an email account, “mistermikemiami@gmail,” to order more than 1,000 grams of the popular club drug known officially as MDMA between March and August of last year, a newly released criminal affidavit says. Agents with Homeland Security Investigations learned about his internet transactions from a confidential source last July and targeted him until his arrest on Thursday.

Hernandez, 40, who worked as a personal trainer, was still on probation after serving his previous prison sentence for distributing Molly imported from China.

On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes ordered that Hernandez be held without bond before trial at the Federal Detention Center because she said he is a “danger to the community.” His lawyer, D’Arsey Houlihan, with the federal public defender’s office, could not be reached for comment after the hearing.

During an interview after his latest arrest, Hernandez admitted to agents that he purchased a series of loads of the MDMA stimulant, ephylone, from China, and he paid for the synthetic drug shipments through Western Union, the affidavit says. His arraignment on charges of conspiring to import controlled substances is set for July 8.

Using a computer that belonged to his employer in Miami, Hernandez reached out in March 2018 to someone identified as “source email1” that he wanted to “place an order for 1000 grams of bk-ebdp,” or ephylone, the affidavit says. The source sent him a price list for 50 grams, 200 grams and 1,000 grams with the color options of white, brown, pink and blue and a Western Union account in China. Hernandez was also instructed to receive the shipment at a real address and to include a phone number.

Hernandez gave the source an address in Las Vegas, along with a phone number, according to the affidavit by HSI Special Agent Alexis Gregory. Afterward, U.S. Customs officials seized a parcel containing 528 grams of ephylone that was sent from China to the Las Vegas address.

Soon after, the source emailed Hernandez that the delivery had failed and offered to send an extra quantity on the next order. Hernandez responded: “Can you please send me maybe 250g. I will pay for shipping, and if it comes through I will pay for that 250. ... I am looking to buy 4-5 kilos a week once im up and running again, but I require your help right now.”

The source emailed Hernandez that the shipping would cost an additional $200, and he sent a wire transfer for that amount to a Western Union account in China under the name X.G., the affidavit says. He eventually received the synthetic drug shipment, though it’s unclear from the affidavit where it was sent in the United States.

In April of last year, Hernandez arranged for another shipment of 250 grams of ephylone at a cost of $200 via Western Union. The parcel of synthetic drugs was sent from Hong Kong to an address in West Palm Beach, says the affidavit, filed by prosecutor Stephanie Hauser.

Then, last July, Hernandez ordered 500 grams of ephylone from someone else identified as “source email2.” According to the affidavit, a person identified as “J.O.” sent $620 via Western Union on behalf of Hernandez to a supplier named “Y.F.” in China for the 500 grams. The parcel of synthetic drugs was shipped to an address in Lakeland.

In his post-arrest interview, the HSI affidavit says, Hernandez admitted to receiving the three ephylone shipments from China — all familiar territory for the swaggering Army veteran.

Four years ago, Hernandez skyrocketed to notoriety for running one of the largest synthetic drug rings in South Florida history — then going undercover for the feds to bust over a dozen others.

After serving 2-1/2 years in prison and a halfway house in Miami, Hernandez became a free man in September 2018, resuming a personal training career, getting a Brazilian butt lift and vowing to reform his life.

The story of Hernandez, a University of Miami grad, and his best friend, fellow veteran Matthew Anich, first came to light in November 2015 as part of the Miami Herald’s Pipeline China series. The series chronicled a new breed of South Florida drug dealers importing synthetic drugs via the mail from China, including fentanyl, the powerful drug that has fueled a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction.

His latest arrest marked yet another low for Hernandez, who once seemed destined for great things. Hernandez, who grew up in Hialeah, joined the Army after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as an Arabic translator as part of an intelligence unit.

But a back injury forced him from the military. He returned to Miami and met Anich, a Marine veteran whose military career was also derailed by injury.

He and Anich opened a Fort Lauderdale tattoo shop but made their real money importing hundreds of kilos of methylone and ethylone, synthetic drugs marketed as Molly in South Florida clubs.

Hernandez frequented strip clubs, employed a cadre of romantic conquests to wire money to Chinese suppliers, drove a $100,000 Bentley paid for in cash and lived in various waterfront condos.

Their Miami lifestyle came crashing down when Anich’s angry girlfriend, a porn star named Selena Rose, got into a fight with him, then tipped off police to the Molly operation.

Anich secretly cooperated against Hernandez, who in turn helped HSI agents build their far-reaching case. In all, the U.S. Attorney’s Office convicted more than a dozen people in various cases, with all but one pleading guilty.

Jay Weaver writes about bad guys who specialize in con jobs, rip-offs and squirreling away millions. Since joining the Miami Herald in 1999, he’s covered the federal courts nonstop, from Elian’s custody battle to A-Rod’s steroid abuse. He was on the Herald team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in 2001. He and three Herald colleagues were Pulitzer Prize finalists for explanatory reporting in 2019 for a series on gold smuggled from South America to Miami.