Eleven Individuals Indicted and Arrested for Drug Trafficking From Puerto Rico to the Continental United States
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On January 10, 2018, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against two defendants charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
On December 27, 2017, Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agents assigned to the AirTAT located in the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMMIA) were conducting routine inspections on the luggage departing from Puerto Rico when a PRPD K-9 alerted positive to an odor of narcotics on four suitcases. Two of the checked baggage tags contained the passenger name of Christian Colón-Hernández. The other two suitcases checked baggage tags contained the passenger name of Jomar Ferrer-Mercado.
Both Colón-Hernández and Ferrer-Mercado were located in the jet bridge area and both voluntarily gave PRPD agents consent to search their suitcases. Agents opened the suitcases and discovered approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine in each suitcase for a total of approximately 43 kilograms of cocaine.
On January 9, 2018, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was conducting routine screening scans of checked luggage at the LMMIA when the screening machine flagged a red plastic suitcase for anomalies that could be consistent with potential explosives. When a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) opened the suitcase, they observed approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine. The red plastic suitcase contained bag check tags for passenger Tiffany Nashyra Campos-Adorno.
During the same time period, PRPD agents assigned to the AirTAT were conducting routine inspections on the luggage departing from Puerto Rico when a PRPD K-9 alerted positive to an odor of narcotics on a suitcase checked with a baggage tag for passenger Tiffany Nashyra Campos-Adorno.
Campos-Adorno was located in the jet bridge area and voluntarily gave PRPD agents consent to search her suitcases. Agents opened the suitcases and discovered approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine in each suitcase for a total of approximately 22 kilograms of cocaine. Campos-Adorno was subsequently arrested and charged via federal criminal complaint with possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances.
On January 10, 2018, FBI agents were notified by AIRTAT agents that gate employees at LMMIA had reported suspicious behavior by passenger Krystal Dones-Cruz during the moments when officers intervened with Campos-Adorno. According to the gate employees, Dones-Cruz abruptly approached gate agents in the terminal and advised that her father was sick and that she had to leave the airport. According to the gate employees, Dones-Cruz left the terminal in haste, leaving behind two checked bags that were already loaded onto the flight. The FBI was later able to confirm Dones-Cruz’s behavior via video surveillance.
Agents at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York were able to recover Dones-Cruz’s two checked bags when they arrived to JFK. Agents discovered approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine in each suitcase for a total of approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine. FBI agents were able to locate Dones-Cruz; she was subsequently arrested and charged via federal criminal complaint with possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart J. Zander is in charge of the prosecutions, under the supervision of Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Díaz-Rex, Deputy Chief of the International Narcotics Unit. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case is part of the ongoing efforts of the Airport Investigations and Tactical Team (AirTAT). Originating in January 2015, AirTAT is a multi-agency initiative created to identify, locate, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute Domestic and Transnational Criminal Organizations (DTCOs) and its operatives using the LMMIA, the Fernando Luis Rivas Dominicci Airport (the Isla Grande airport), and peripheral airports as platforms to smuggle narcotics, weapons, human cargo, counterfeit documents and illicit proceeds. These airports play a strategic role for DTCOs to conduct contraband smuggling activities inbound and outbound to the continental United States as well as international destinations.
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