WASHINGTON - A grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a two-count indictment against 10 officers of the Mayaguez Narcotics & Vice Unit of the Police of Puerto Rico (“POPR”) for civil rights violations, the Department of Justice announced today. The officers are charged with conspiring to fabricate evidence against individuals and conspiring to unlawfully possess and distribute controlled substances. Named in the indictment are Dennis Muniz-Tirado, Pascual Santiago-Mendez, Anthony Dominguez-Colon, Victor Cortes-Caban, Luis Ruperto-Torres, Luis Velez-Class, Josue Bosques-Muniz, Michael Monsegur, Ismael Chaparro-Velez and Efrain Bey-Arce.
The indictment alleges that over a period of about three years, from February 2004 to July 2007, the 10 officers conspired to fabricate evidence against numerous individuals in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, resulting in the unlawful detentions and arrests of these individuals. The officers are alleged to have fabricated evidence by planting illegal controlled substances on or near individuals and by obtaining search warrants based on false statements.
The indictment also alleges that in furtherance of their scheme to fabricate evidence, the officers unlawfully retained and hid controlled substances seized during the course of making arrests. The indictment charges that the officers unlawfully distributed those substances.
If convicted of both counts, the defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison and combined fines of more than $4 million.
An indictment is merely a formal accusation of criminal conduct. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott H. Anderson from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Puerto Rico, and Trial Attorneys Roy Conn and Avner Shapiro from the Civil Rights Division.