38 bales containing 1,068 kilograms of cocaine
1,068 kilograms of cocaine with a street value estimated at $25,632,000.
SAN JUAN, P.R. - A grand jury returned an indictment against Eliezer Delgado-Ramos, Julio Meléndez-Rivera and Inocencio Santana-Nieves, and a criminal complaint was filed against Raymond González-Mercado, aka “Indio,” for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, announced today Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. This investigation is led by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), jointly with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and with the collaboration of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD).
From on or about April 11 until April 29, 2011, Eliezer Delgado-Ramos and Julio Meléndez-Rivera met with an individual in order to request assistance in bringing 1,000 kilograms of cocaine from the Dominican Republic into Puerto Rico as part of their drug trafficking activities. Delgado-Ramos offered to pay the individual for his assistance during the drug smuggling venture. Delgado-Ramos offered to pay $750,000.00 to the individual for transporting the cocaine into the United States.
On May 1 st, 2011, during a sea transfer, four (4) foreign nationals provided the individual hired by Delgado-Ramos and Meléndez-Rivera 38 bales containing 1,068 kilograms of cocaine. On May 4, 2011, Eliezer Delgado-Ramos, Julio Meléndez-Rivera and Inocencio Santana-Nieves were arrested by law enforcement agents after arriving in Salinas, Puerto Rico, in order to meet and receive the cocaine shipment as previously agreed upon. An additional individual, Raymond González-Mercado, awaited them in order to assist in the subsequent distribution of the cocaine. On May 6, 2011, he was also arrested by PRPD officers after a high speed chase.
The United States seeks to forfeit the amount of money representing the value of the property involved in the offense, that is, twenty-five million, six-hundred and thirty-two thousand dollars ($25,632,000).
“The investigation into the illegal activities of this drug trafficking organization continues. We commend the PRPD, DEA and ICE for their successful operation and prompt arrest of these individuals. We will continue our efforts to eradicate drug trafficking in our communities and will not allow drug smugglers to import drug shipments into our jurisdiction,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Vélez.
“Through these arrests and seizures we are sending a clear message Puerto Rico will not be a safe haven for criminals looking to ship drugs into Puerto Rico and the United States,” said Roberto Escobar-Vargas, special agent in charge of the ICE HSI in San Juan. “ICE along with DEA, PRPD and all our federal and local partners are committed to working together to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into Puerto Rico.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney José Capó-Iriarte. If convicted, the defendants could face up to life in prison. Indictments and criminal complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. The investigation continues.