DEA/HIDTA MAJOR ORGANIZATIONS GROUP ARRESTS 14 INDIVIDUALS DURING OPERATION FACE OFF
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Guillermo Gil, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico and Rogelio Guevara, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Field Division, announced today the arrest of 14 members of a cocaine distribution organization based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation named Operation Face Off. The investigation, conducted by DEAs High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) San Juan Major Organizations Group, revealed that its members were involved in the distribution of large quantities of cocaine throughout the metropolitan area of San Juan, PR. This organization was also engaged in the transportation of large quantities of cocaine from Colombia to New York, through Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. This OCDETF investigation, which was initiated in March 2000 by the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and the U.S. Customs Service (USCS), identified Raul ESTREMERA-Diaz as the head of this organization and tracked the organization activities since July of 1998. Throughout the course of Operation Face Off DEA agents seized $340,846 in U.S. currency and 11 kilograms of cocaine at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and 15 kilograms of cocaine at Newark International Airport in New Jersey and 25 kilograms of cocaine in San Juan, PR.
As a result of this OCDETF investigation, on October 2, 2001, the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of Puerto Rico obtained Federal Grand Jury Indictments charging 26 members of the ESTREMERA-Diaz organization with multiple Federal law violations. The Federal Grand Jury charged the members of the ESTREMERA-Diaz organization with violations to Title 21, United States Code: Sections 846 and 841(a)(1) (conspiracy to possess and possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute), Section 853 (Criminal Forfeiture); Tittle 18, United States Code: Section 2 (aiding and abetting), Section 922(g)(l) (Felon in possession of a firearm), Section 1956(h) (Conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions in property derived from specific unlawful activity) and Title 31, United States Code: Section 5324(a)(3) (Structuring transaction to evade reporting requirement prohibited). Earlier today, a contingent of over 150 federal and local law enforcement agents executed the 26 arrest warrants issued by the Federal Grand Jury in the areas of Rio Piedras, PR, Santurce, PR, Hato Rey, PR, Trujillo Alto, PR, Cayey, PR, Toa Baja, PR, Canovanas, PR, and Carolina, PR.
Agents from the DEA, FBI, USCS, BATF, Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developments Office of Inspector General, U.S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service, Police of Puerto Rico, P.R. Justice Departments Special Investigations Bureau and P.R. Treasury Department participated in the arrest phase of Operation Face Off.. In addition, DEA agents executed federal search warrants at R.E.E.D Auto Accessories and Sound Center at 577 Barbosa Avenue in Hato Rey, PR, and at Urbanizacion Entre Rios and Urbanizacion Valle San Juan; both located at the Encantada Development in Trujillo Alto, PR. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of $5,000 U.S. currency and one 9-millimeter pistol. Also, the U.S. Marshals Service, District of Puerto Rico, seized four real estate properties located at Urbanizacion Entre Rios, Encantada Development, Trujillo Alto, PR; Urbanizacion Valle San Juan, Encantada Development, Trujillo Alto, PR; Urbanizacion Covadonga, Barrio Candelaria, Toa Baja, PR and an apartment at Condominio Torres de Andalucia, Barrio Sabana Llana, Rio Piedras, PR. These real estate properties are valued at $1,000,000 dollars. The Puerto Rico National Guard Counterdrug Support Task Force provided logistical and air support to the operation.
The following individuals were arrested today during Operation Face Off:
Tania TORRES-Estremera, DOB: 2/16/75,
Twelve defendants remain fugitives are being sought by the U.S. Marshals Services Puerto Rico Fugitive Task Force. The indictment is an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial.
Operation Face Off Results