Four Former Puerto Rico Police Officers Sentenced for Running Criminal Organization Out of Police Department
WASHINGTON—Four additional former Puerto Rico police officers have been sentenced for using their law enforcement affiliation and equipment to commit robbery and extortion, and to sell illegal narcotics and manipulate court records.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Division made the announcement.
Jose Sanchez-Santiago, Miguel Perez-Rivera and Carlos Laureano-Cruz were each sentenced to 63 months in prison. Luis Suarez-Sanchez was sentenced to 87 months in prison. All four defendants were former officers from the Police of Puerto Rico, and all four pleaded guilty in January 2014 to conspiracy to violate RICO.
The officers admitted to being members of a criminal organization that sought to enrich its members through a pattern of illegal conduct. Over the course of the conspiracy, the officers worked together to conduct traffic stops and enter homes or buildings used by suspected criminals to steal money, property and narcotics. The officers also planted evidence to make false arrests, and then extorted money in exchange for their victims’ release from custody. In exchange for bribe payments, the officers gave false testimony, manipulated court records and failed to appear in court when required so that cases would be dismissed. Additionally, the officers sold and distributed wholesale quantities of narcotics.
The officers frequently shared the proceeds they illegally obtained and used their power, authority and official positions as police officers to promote and protect their illegal activity. Among other things, the officers used their police firearms, badges, patrol cars, tools, uniforms and other equipment to commit the crimes, and concealed their illegal activity with fraudulently obtained court documents and falsified police paperwork to make it appear that they were engaged in legitimate police work.
The other 12 defendants charged in this case were sentenced in December 2014. All defendants were sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel R. Dominguez of the District of Puerto Rico.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division and prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Brian K. Kidd, Emily Rae Woods and Menaka Kalaskar of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mariana E. Bauzá of the District of Puerto Rico.