Forty-Five Individuals Indicted in Puerto Rico for Drug Trafficking
Twenty-Five Charged with Racketeering Conspiracy and Related Crimes
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 06, 2012|
SAN JUAN—Two indictments charging two criminal organizations with large-scale narcotics trafficking at Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport were unsealed today, announced U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. On May 31, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted 25 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, with the collaboration of the San Juan Municipal Police. The defendants are charged in a 16-count indictment with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization that engaged in narcotics distribution and criminal acts principally out of the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
The indictment alleges that from in or around 2010 until May 2012, members of the enterprise and their associates carried kilograms of cocaine into the airport using various methods including: in backpacks/bags, hidden on their person, or in official work vehicles. Once in the secured area, they would transfer the kilograms of cocaine onto commercial aircrafts headed to the continental United States.
It is further alleged that members of the enterprise transported large sums of drug proceeds in the form of U.S. currency from the continental United States to Puerto Rico. Some of the drug proceeds were used to purchase items, such as vehicles, which were regularly used to promote the enterprise.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Kidd, Sean Torriente, and Justin Martin from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit. This unit operates under the office’s Narcotics Unit and is supervised by the Chief of the Narcotics Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood.
A second indictment unsealed today charges 20 individuals for allegedly aiding and abetting each other and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 9,000 kilograms of cocaine aboard American Airlines commercial flights. At times pertinent to this indictment, convicted felon Wilfredo Rodríguez-Rosado, aka “Mogoyo,” recruited and organized a group of individuals to package, transport, and deliver suitcases loaded with kilograms of cocaine to the American Airlines cargo area at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport. Moreover, he recruited and organized a group of American Airlines employees to ensure that those suitcases were smuggled into American Airlines flights destined to Miami and Orlando, Florida and to Newark, New Jersey.
The case was investigated by the DEA, the PRPD, and the FBI, with the collaboration of the San Juan Municipal Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Olga Castellón, Mariana Bauzá, and Maritza González.
“The United States Attorney’s Office, along with our state and federal law enforcement counterparts, will continue investigating and prosecuting drug trafficking organizations which use our island as a trans-shipment point for drugs to the U.S. mainland. The use of commercial aircraft to smuggle narcotics in and out of Puerto Rico also creates a serious threat to national security and we will continue to protect our borders from these criminal organizations,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez.
DEA Deputy Administrator Thomas M. Harrigan today said, “Americans have a right to expect the highest integrity from those they entrust with their safety, and DEA is committed to protecting that trust. Today’s arrests at one of the nation’s busiest airports reflect our relentless commitment to working with our partners to aggressively fight drug trafficking, not only at our nation’s points of entry, but at the—source, transit and arrival zones throughout the world.”
“The defendants in this investigation not only utilized their positions and security access to smuggle large quantities of illegal narcotics, but they also compromised the safety and security at one of the Caribbean’s most vital airports,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Caribbean Division Pedro Janer. “DEA will continue to dismantle these organizations that think they can blatantly use legitimate entities to carry out their smuggling operations.”
“Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will support all efforts to identify and prosecute airport employees participating in the smuggling of illegal or dangerous items as they constitute an insider threat to the integrity of the aviation system,” said José G. Baquero, Esq., Federal Security Director for TSA.
The defendants in both cases are facing a minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 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.