MAY 05 (SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) – U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, announced the indictment and arrest of 48 defendants charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of controlled substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) are in charge of the investigation.
|DEA agent directs PRPD-DEA Task Force Lieutenant Jorge Estrada to an arrest location.||PRPD-DEA Task Force Lieutenant Jorge Estrada, DEA Assistant Special in Charge Israel Alicea and PRPD-DEA Task Force Lieutenant Jesus Figueroa take questions from the media during a news conference announcing results of the arrest operation.|
The indictment, returned on April 23, 2014, by a federal grand jury and unsealed in federal court today, charges 48 individuals with conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, cocaine base (crack), and marijuana, all within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising the Rafael Hernández (El Kennedy), Manuel Hernández-Rosa (El Candelaria), and El Carmen Public Housing Projects, all for significant financial gain and profit.
The indictment alleges that beginning in 2010, the organization established drug distribution points among the housing projects. Some of the defendants would routinely possess, carry, brandish and use firearms to protect themselves and the drug trafficking organization from rival gangs.
|PRPD-DEA Task Force Lieutenant Ruben Lorenzo briefs DEA supervisors on the progress of the arrest operation.|
As part of the manner and means of the conspiracy, high level members of the drug trafficking organization or leaders would use monies derived from the sales of controlled substances to purchase firearms, ammunition and bulletproof vests.
The 48 co-conspirators had many roles in order to further the goals of the conspiracy. The following are the roles as alleged in the indictment: four leaders; four suppliers; eight enforcers; three runners; 40 sellers; and one facilitator. Twenty-seven of the defendants are facing one count of using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
“This investigation is another example of DEA joint efforts with the Police of Puerto Rico to rid the west part of the Island of violent drug trafficking criminal organizations. Today we impact Mayagüez. Our efforts don’t stop here; they will continue,” said Vito Salvatore Guarino, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Caribbean Division.
“This investigation and six-count indictment represent a top-to-bottom dismantling of a violent criminal organization intent on polluting our neighborhoods with drugs,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Federal and local law enforcement agencies remain committed to work tirelessly to target and eliminate the most significant threats to our communities.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney José Contreras is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
To View the Indictment