Two former officers with the Police of Puerto Rico and another individual were sentenced to prison late yesterday for their roles in providing security for drug transactions.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodriguez-Velez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo in the District of Puerto Rico.
Former Police of Puerto Rico officers Daviel Salinas-Acevedo, 29, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and Miguel Santiago-Cordero, 30, of Lares, Puerto Rico, were each sentenced on July 30, 2013, to serve 181 months in prison. In addition, Wendell Rivera-Ruperto, 38, of Las Marias, Puerto Rico, was also sentenced yesterday to 420 months in prison.
On Jan. 10, 2013, Salinas-Acevedo and Santiago-Cordero were each convicted at trial of one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction. Rivera-Ruperto was convicted of one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempting to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction. Rivera-Ruperto had been convicted previously of 15 other counts arising from his participation in other, related drug transactions.
The case against the three defendants arose from the FBI’s undercover operation known as “Operation Guard Shack.” To date, 131 defendants have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial, and 123 defendants have been sentenced as a result of the operation.
According to the evidence presented in court, Salinas-Acevedo, Santiago-Cordero and Rivera-Ruperto each provided security for what they believed were illegal cocaine deals that occurred on March 24, April 9 and July 8, 2010, respectively. In fact, each purported drug transaction was one of dozens of simulated transactions conducted as part of the undercover FBI operation. The three men performed armed security for the multi-kilogram cocaine deals by frisking the buyer, standing guard as the kilos were counted and inspecting and escorting the buyer in and out of the transaction.
In return for the security they provided, Salinas-Acevedo, Santiago-Cordero and Rivera-Ruperto each received a cash payment of $2,000. The money was never returned by any of the defendants, and none of the defendants ever reported the transactions.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The Puerto Rico Department of Justice also provided assistance in this case.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Anthony J. Phillips and Edward J. Loya Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico participated in the investigation and prosecution of this case.