Individual Extradited From The Dominican Republic To Puerto Rico To Face Drug Trafficking Charges
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On October 13, 2016, a Federal Grand Jury in the district of Puerto Rico returned a seven-count indictment for conspiracy to import a controlled substance, importation of a controlled substance (aiding and abetting), attempted importation, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute (aiding and abetting), attempted possession with intent to distribute, and one count for conspiracy to launder money against Juan José De La Cruz-Morales, aka “Wandy” and five additional defendants as part of a Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) investigation.
De La Cruz-Morales was recently arrested in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic during Operation Falcon, led by the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) and the Dominican Republic Attorney General Office (PGR) with DEA support.
“This successful extradition of De La Cruz-Morales is a reflection of years of collaboration and cooperation by the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners who are all committed to combatting transnational criminal organizations,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Thanks to the authorities in the Dominican Republic for their efforts in facilitating this extradition so the defendant can be held accountable and face justice for his alleged crimes.”
“DEA recognizes the extraordinary work of the DNCD and Dominican Republic authorities in attacking transnational criminal organizations which harm both our countries,” said John F. Kanig, DEA Caribbean Division Acting Special Agent in Charge. “The dismantlement of this organization has certainly cut off an important drug smuggling scheme in the Caribbean Border. In coordination with our federal, state and foreign partners, DEA will continue to pursue strategic targets in support of our mission to provide security and protection to our citizens.”
“The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group platforms foster a great degree of cooperation and transparency between federal law enforcement agencies which facilitate the investigation and prosecution of high-level targets and leaders of transnational criminal organizations such as Mr. De La Cruz-Morales,” said Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Juan. “HSI also appreciates the efforts of our great law enforcement partners in the Dominican Republic, particularly the DNCD and PGR.”
The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) is a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force group operating in the District of Puerto Rico focusing on Caribbean and South American-based Transnational Criminal Organizations involved in the maritime and air smuggling shipments of narcotics into Puerto Rico and the Continental United States and in the laundering of drug proceeds using bulk cash smuggling and sophisticated laundering activities. CCSF signatory agencies include the DEA, HSI, FBI, CGIS, USMS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jawayria Z. Auchter from the Transnational Organized Section is in charge of the prosecution of the case. The CCSF initiated an investigation which led to the identification of De La Cruz-Morales and other targets operating in the Dominican Republic. Intelligence shared with Dominican counterparts assisted the DNCD in the developing of the successful Operation Falcon. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing De La Cruz-Morales’s arrest and extradition from the Dominican Republic.
The defendant faces a possible sentence of 10 years up to life in prison.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.