NOV 15 (JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico) - On October 26, 2012, a federal grand jury returned two five-count indictments charging 50 individuals with drug trafficking as a result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD)- Ponce Strike Force, announced today by United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. Both indictments include forfeiture allegations. In the first indictment, US v. Carlos Perez-Casiano et. al., 17 individuals were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”), cocaine and marijuana in Singapur Ward commonly known as “Calle 10”, “Calle 15” and “Singapur” within the Municipality of Juana Diaz. In the second indictment, US v. Santos Martinez-Saldana, another 33 individuals were charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and marijuana in Pastillo Ward, commonly known as “Calle 42” and “La 42”, and other areas within the Municipality of Juana Diaz.
According to both indictments, the defendants would use force, violence, and intimidation in order to threaten rival drug traffickers as well as members of their own organization in order to maintain control of the drug trafficking activities within the Municipality of Juana Diaz. It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracies that some of the defendants and their co-conspirators would often package and prepare the narcotics in locations in and around Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico using those places as “drug laboratories” and “drug stash houses.”
In the Martinez-Saldana indictment the co-conspirators prepared and possessed a 20-page manual titled: LOS SECRETOS EN EL MUNDO DE LAS DROGAS (The Secrets in the World of Drugs), which included discussions related to various aspects of the drug trafficking business, such as: how to mix and manufacture heroin, cocaine and crack; and how to deal with “snitches” (“Either you make money or you go running to the federals. There are so many snitches nowadays that they have to be spoken to clearly as if they were the police. But let’s see if after snitching the government is going to protect him.”).
The 50 indicted individuals had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: four leaders, nine drug point owners, seven enforcers, six runners, three facilitators, and 26 sellers.
“Today’s arrests should send a message to those involved in drug trafficking. We will not rest until they are brought to justice. We will continue working with our state and local partners to identify, arrest, and prosecute those responsible for selling narcotics in Puerto Rico, and who contribute to the violence and criminal activity in the island.” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
“ The joint effort between the DEA and the PRPD continues and will continue to yield positive results. We will continue to arrest all of those who threaten our quality of life.” said Pedro Janer, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Caribbean Division.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Teresa Zapata and Olga Castellon. The defendants are facing a minimum of 10 years up to life in prison. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.If the allegations contained in the indictments result in convictions, all 50 defendants shall forfeit to the United States properties and/or cash for a total of $3 million in the first indictment and $5 million in the second indictment.