41 Individuals Indicted for Drug Trafficking in the Municipality of San Juan
SAN JUAN, PR—U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced the indictment and arrest of 41 defendants charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances. Today, ICE-HSI agents and officers of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), the agencies in charge of the investigation, executed the arrest warrants with assistance from ATF, FBI, CBP, San Juan Municipal Police and the Puerto Rico Department Housing.
The indictment, handed down April 22, 2014 by a federal grand jury and unsealed in federal court today, charges 41 individuals with conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack), cocaine, and marijuana, all within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising the Nemesio R. Canales Public Housing Project, all for significant financial gain and profit.
The indictment alleges that beginning in 2007, the organization established drug distribution points at the area known as “El Medio” which constitutes the basketball court and the areas surrounding the gym and the Administration Office. Other areas of drug distribution also included the areas between buildings 4, 5, 32, 33, 50, 51, 60, and 61 of the housing project. Some of the defendants would routinely possess, carry, brandish, and use firearms to protect themselves and the drug trafficking organization from rival gangs.
As part of the manner and means of the conspiracy, some of the defendants and their co-conspirators would have access to different vehicles in order to transport money, narcotics, and firearms. Also, these vehicles would often be used by some of the defendants and their co-conspirators to conduct drive by shootings and to go out and “hunt” rival gang members. Some of these vehicles were altered with hidden compartments to conceal drugs and firearms.
The 41 co-conspirators had many roles in order to further the goals of the conspiracy. The following are the roles as alleged in the indictment: nine leaders/drug point owners/drug point administrators; one supplier; two enforcers; five runners; 18 sellers; and six facilitators. Thirty-one of the defendants are facing one count of using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
“This investigation and five-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. “The criminal activity laid out in this indictment shows the lengths people will go to sell drugs, but it should also underscore our commitment to fighting back. Federal and local law enforcement agencies remain committed to work tirelessly to target and eliminate the most significant threats to our communities.”
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney María L. Montañez-Concepción 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.