Puerto Rico indicts drug traffickers
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico: A federal Grand Jury in the District of Puerto Rico issued a seven- count indictment, charging 63 defendants with federal drug trafficking and firearms offenses.
Last week, 45 members of the drug trafficking organisation known as "Los Dementes", established since January 1998 at the Public Housing Project Juana Matos in Cataño, were arrested.
Twelve leaders of the organisation also managed several drug points at the Matienzo Cintrón and El Coqui Public Housing Projects, the Vietnam Ward in Cataño and the Amelia Ward in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
The members of the drug trafficking organisation are charged with violations of the Federal Controlled Substances Act, specifically: conspiracy to distribute heroin, marihuana, cocaine, crack, Xanax, and Percocet. The indictment also contains narcotics forfeiture allegations for undisclosed amount of dollars.
"We are methodically eliminating the most active and violent drug trafficking organizations in the San Juan Metro area," said US Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. "Through the joint efforts between the federal and state law enforcement agencies, we will continue to eradicate violent crime from our communities."
The leaders of the drug trafficking organisation would maintain a group of co-defendants managing the drug distribution activities at the numerous drug points under their control. The leaders of this organisation would divide amongst themselves and their subordinates the proceeds of the drug trafficking sales.
The co-conspirators operated in different roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, to wit: leaders, enforcers, runners, sellers, drug processors and facilitators.
"Los Dementes, Inc." was led by the principal defendant of this conspiracy, Carlos Cruz-Mojica. The leader would travel to Florida to purchase weapons and controlled substances and ship them to Puerto Rico. These firearms were used to protect the drug distribution business.
Cruz-Mojica would also lease firearms to other members of the conspiracy. The associates of the organization would use violence, force and intimidation in order to gain or maintain control of the drug trafficking operations, and to discipline its members.
The defendants and their co-conspirators would purchase wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, and distribute the same in street quantities to the owners of the different drug points in the Municipalities of Catano and Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
The investigation was part of the joint efforts of the San Juan Metro Strike Force Team. This Strike Force has incorporated prosecutors from the Commonwealth Department of Justice, as special assistants, working together with federal prosecutors and integrated Strike Force members to combat violent crime organizations.
Penalties for the narcotics offences alleged in the indictment range from ten years to life imprisonment and fines of up to $4,000,000.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial. The US government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by San Juan Metro Strike Force Assistant United States Attorney Geroge Massucco-LaTaif and Special Assistant US Attorney Olga Castellón under the supervision of Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Guillermo Gil-Bonar.