DEA HIDTA Ponce Investigation Culminates With The Indictment Of 27 Drug Traffickers Operating Drug Points In Aristedes Chavier Housing Project
NOV 9 -- PONCE, Puerto Rico – Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Velez, United Status Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico and Jerome Michael Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Caribbean Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today jointly announced the indictment of 27 individuals engaged in the distribution of illegal controlled substances in the Aristides Chavier Housing Project in Ponce , Puerto Rico. The indictments were issued by a federal grand jury on November 7, 2006 and are the culmination of a yearlong investigation by the DEA Ponce High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Resident Office as a result of DEA’s leading role in the U.S. Attorney’s, District of Puerto Rico, Ponce Strike Force.
“DEA is committed with making our community a safer one by targeting violent drug traffickers and removing them from the streets of Puerto Rico. Our active role in the Ponce Strike Force is part of our effort to help the Commonwealth and Municipal law enforcement authorities reduce violent crime in the Ponce area” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Jerome Michael Harris.
The following individuals
These individuals are being accused of distributing “crack cocaine heroin, within the Aristides Chavier Public Housing Project and within one thousand (1,000) feet of the Eduardo Newman Public School, all in violation of the United States Controlled Substances Act. The defendants operated drug distribution points within the Aristides Chavier Public Housing Project outside the range of the surveillance cameras installed by the Commonwealth Housing Department.
Early this morning a task force of federal and commonwealth law enforcement agents from the DEA, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Marshals Service (USMS), Puerto Rico Treasury Department (Hacienda), Puerto Rico Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE) and the Police of Puerto Rico (PRPD) executed the 28 arrests warrants issued by United States Chief Magistrate Judge Justo Arenas at the Aristides Chavier Public Housing Project and other locations throughout the Ponce, PR area.
The Ponce Strike Force initiative targets the most violent drug gangs operating throughout the Ponce, PR area with the objective of disrupting illegal drug gang by dismantling them, reducing the availability of illicit drugs, and the number of drug-related crimes in the area. The U.S. Attorneys’ Office provides dedicated Assistant U.S. Attorney’s (AUSA) to enhance the effectiveness of drug and violent crime prosecution of cases within the Ponce, PR area.
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Capo-Iriarte. The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of any guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial. The U.S. government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.