Two Individuals Arrested For Conspiracy To Possess With Intent To Distribute Cocaine
Authorities seized approximately 40 bales of Cocaine valued at approximately $29 million (USD)
SAN JUAN, P.R. – On January 2, 2013, United States Magistrate Judge Sylvia Carreño-Coll authorized a criminal complaint against Jose De Leon and Wilson Consencion for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities, working in support of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), arrested the two smugglers, seized a go-fast vessel and a 40-bale shipment of cocaine in waters south of Puerto Rico on Sunday, December 30, 2012. The drug shipment was estimated to have a street value of over $29 million dollars.
The defendants, knowingly and intentionally combined, conspired, confederated and agreed together and with each other, and with other persons known and unknown, to commit the following offense against the United States: to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, that is, a vessel without nationality as defined by Title 46, United States Code, Section 70502(c)(A). The District of Puerto Rico was the first point where the defendants entered the United States after the commission of the offense.
“This is another example of the success of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Initiative,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws try to smuggle illegal contraband into our jurisdiction.”
“This is the third major cocaine shipment this Holiday season in the Sector San Juan area of responsibility in which the Coast Guard and Caribbean regional law enforcement partners have collectively detained a total of three vessels, six smugglers and kept over 4,847 pounds of cocaine from reaching criminal hands,” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan Commander. “Our efforts to stem the flow of drugs into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as far off shore as possible is unwavering and will reduce crime across the region.”
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Kelley Tiffany. If convicted the defendants could face up to life in prison. Criminal complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the United States Attorney‘s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid action (FURA) in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney's Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of ICE-HSI, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, DEA, FBI, the Coast Guard, CBP and PRPD's Joint Forces for Rapid Action.