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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2005

OPERATION TIGER TAIL

INVESTIGATIONS BLENDS RESOURCES OF THE PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS, THE ORGANIZED CRIME DRUG ENFORCMENT TASK FORCE, AND THE PUERTO RICO-U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA INVESTIGATION AND RESULTS IN 45 ARRESTS AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN SEIZURES


H.S. Garcia, the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced that on June 2, 2005, a Federal Grand Jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned four (4) indictments charging 45 members of a criminal organization, lead by defendant EDWIN C. COLON-DIAZ. The organization leader, COLON-DIAZ, along with forty-four (44) additional co-defendants, were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fifty (50) grams or more of cocaine base; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute one hundred (100) grams or more of heroin, five hundred (500) grams or more of cocaine, fifty (50) grams or more of cocaine base and marihuana; possession with intent to distribute (100) grams or more of heroin, five hundred (500) grams or more of cocaine, and fifty (50) grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute fifty (50) grams or more of cocaine base within one thousand (1,000) feet of a public housing project, or a public elementary school, or a park; possession with intent to distribute one hundred (100) grams or more of heroin within one thousand (1,000) feet of a public housing project, or a public elementary school, or a park; possession with intent to distribute five hundred (500) grams or more of cocaine within one thousand (1,000) feet of a public housing project, or a public elementary school, or a park; and possession with intent to distribute marihuana within one thousand (1,000) feet of a public housing project, a public elementary school, or a park. The defendants have been charged with violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2, and Title 21, Sections 841, 846, and 860. Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).

The members of this criminal organization, under the leadership of COLON-DIAZ, operated four major drug distribution points located within the perimeter of the Vista Hermosa Public Housing Project in San Juan, Puerto Rico. These drug distribution points were known with the code names of PUNTO ROJO or PUNTO TAPA ROJA, PUNTO TIGRE or PUNTO TAPA AMARILLA, PUNTO NEGRO or PUNTO TAPA NEGRA, and PUNTO BROWN or PUNTO TAPA BROWN. The members of this organization were arrested at the following public housing projects: Vista Hermosa, Villa España, San Fernando, and Santa Elena. All of which are lkocated within the San Juan, Puerto Rico metropolitan area. Financial investigative efforts against the COLON-DIAZ’ organization revealed numerous assets linked to the criminal organization. Amongst them, six (6) real state properties, consisting of five (5) houses and one (1) apartment located in the areas of Isla Verde, Río Piedras, Hato Rey, and Trujillo Alto. In addition, three (3) vehicles utilized to facilitate drug transactions and three (2) bank accounts containing approximately half a million dollars ($500,000.00) in drug proceeds were identified.


The investigation was conducted under the PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS (PSN) initiative and the ORGANIZED CRIME DRUG ENFORCMENT TASK FORCE (OCDETF) and the HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA (HIDTA) programs. The OCDETF was composed of law enforcement agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD/OIG), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Puerto Rico Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) assigned to the Puerto Rico-U.S. Virgin Islands HIDTA.

This PSN-HIDTA-OCDETF investigation, named OPERATION TIGER TAIL, targeted the criminal activities of the EDWIN C. COLON - DIAZ’ organization. Agents assigned to the PSN-HIDTA-OCDETF carried out multiple narcotic purchases in the aforementioned drug points. The drug transactions included narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and marihuana. The defendants performed different roles within this drug trafficking organization, such as: drug point owner, enforcers, dealers, runners, and lookouts. PRPD and NIE also continue investigating several murders allegedly committed by members of the organization in order to bring future criminal charges for violations to the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The federal case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Guillermo Gil and Assistant US Attorney Maritza Gonzalez.

PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS is one of the top priorities of the White House consisting of a nationwide commitment to reduce gun violence by networking existing local programs that target gun crimes and providing those programs with additional tools necessary to be successful. The goal is to prosecute gun criminals aggressively in an effort to make our streets and communities safer. For more information about the PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS initiative you may contact the PSN web site at www.psn.gov.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


 

 

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