DEA Seizes Close to $3 Million in Cash in Puerto Rico
APR 21 -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Caribbean Division announced today that The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized close to $3 million in cash at an apartment in the Isla Verde tourist zone and at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
During the long local holiday weekend acting on intelligence information task force and special agents from the DEA Caribbean Division assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) established surveillance at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Isla Verde. At the hotel, DEA agents observed two individuals unloading what appeared to be a heavy suitcase from a Ford Explorer SUV and entering the hotel.
DEA agents followed one of the individuals departing the hotel to a nearby condominium in Isla Verde, while the other individual remained at the hotel under surveillance. DEA agents continued surveillance on the individual at the hotel and observed when he exited the hotel and followed him to a public establishment and then to the condominium, both in Isla Verde. The individual tried unsuccessfully to gain entry to the condominium. Subsequently DEA agents watched him as he returned to the hotel and checked out. DEA agents observed the individual boarding a taxi with several suitcases.
DEA agents followed the individual to the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport. After checking the bags, they were screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), who discovered approximately $375,000.00 in cash. DEA agents identified the individual as Venezuelan national Nicolas RAMOS-Fontalvo, 53. DEA agents interviewed RAMOS who denied being the owner of the large amount of cash in the suitcases he checked in. RAMOS told the DEA agents that he received the money from an unknown individual at the condominium in Isla Verde.
DEA agents located the apartment inside the condominium. At the apartment DEA agents found seven (7) large suitcases containing a very large amount of cash. After an official bank count yesterday the cash amount contained in the suitcases totaled $2.6 million in U.S. dollars. The U.S. currency was administratively seized by DEA. The second individual was not present at the condominium and has not been identified. The investigation continues.