SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Guillermo Gil, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico; Rogelio Guevara, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Field Division; Annabelle Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice, and Pierre Vivoni, Puerto Rico Police Superintendent today announced the conclusion of a nine (9) months long investigation, called Operation S.O.S., with the arrests of 63 individuals. This investigation targeted nine (9) violent drug trafficking organizations operating in Ponce, PR and Juana Diaz, PR. These drug trafficking organizations are believed to be responsible for the distribution of multi kilogram amounts of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin.
The investigation, known as Operation S.O.S., was initiated by the DEA Ponce/High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Resident Office in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Police Department's Ponce Homicide Division and with the assistance of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice's Ponce District Attorney's Office. Amongst the targets of the investigation are their leaders: Jose GONZALEZ-Rosado alias Cheo Bocon, leader of the Santiago Iglesias-Calle Magnolia, Ponce, PR drug distribution point; Carlos Alberto BADILLO-Cruz alias Albert, leader of the Lopez Nussa Housing Project Ponce, PR drug distribution point; Jose M. RODRIGUEZ-Gracia, leader of the Campo Alegre Housing Project Ponce, PR drug distribution point; Mario DELGADO-Vargas alias Mayito, leader of the Los Claveles Housing Project Ponce, PR drug distribution point; Rafael RAMOS-Martinez, leader of the Kennedy Housing Project Juana Diaz, PR drug distribution point; Antonio Ruben MARTINEZ-Pomales alias Benji, leader of the Barrio Guayabal Juana Diaz, PR drug distribution point; Raymond A. TORRES-Santiago, leader of the La Plena Juana Diaz, PR drug distribution point; Tomas SANTIAGO-De Jesus alias Petete, leader of the Barrio Aguilita Juana Diaz, PR drug distribution point; Alcides GARCIA-Marcucci alias Juan, leader of the Barriada Ferran-Calle Venus Ponce, PR drug distribution point, Alex JORDAN-Santos alias Alex Zorillo, enforcer of the Santiago Iglesias Ponce, PR drug distribution point; Nelson DELGADO-alias Pito Hui, distributor of the Ferry Barranca Ponce, PR drug distribution point; and brothers Nelson MESCUAL and Geraldo MESCUAL, leaders of the Barriada Cantera Ponce, PR drug distribution points.
Based on this High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) investigation the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico obtained Federal Grand Jury indictments on August 30 and September 5, 2001, charging eighty-five (85) members of these drug trafficking organizations with violations to Title 21, U.S. Cod, Section 846 (conspiracy to possess and possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute), Title 18 U.S. Code, Sections: 922 and 924 (Illegal possession of firearms) and 1956 (Money Laundering). Today, during a pre-dawn tactical operation, a contingent of over 500 federal and commonwealth law enforcement agents simultaneously executed eighty-five (85) arrests warrants at numerous location in Juana Diaz, PR, Guanica, PR, Villalba, PR, and Ponce, PR, New Heaven, CT, Waterbury, CT, Tampa, Fl and Allentown, PA. Eleven (11) members of the organizations were already incarcerated, seven (7) in custody of the Puerto Rico Corrections Administration and four (4) in custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Three (3) individuals were arrested in Tampa, Fl, one (1) in Winter Heaven, CT, and one (1) in Waterbury, CT. The Puerto Rico National Guard Counterdrug Support Task Force provided logistical and air support to this operation.
Defendant list to be provided during news conference. The indictment is an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial. If convicted the defendants' face the criminal forfeiture of assets valued in millions of dollars derived from illegal drug trafficking activities pursuant to Title 18 U.S. Code Section 982.