Two Men Indicted for Environmental Crimes Committed in the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Las Mareas Community of Salinas, Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico, United States Attorney Delia Smith for the District of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), and Chief Deborah Harris of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crime Section announced, along with multiple federal law enforcement Special Agents in Charge, the formation of a Puerto Rico and USVI Environmental Crimes Task Force (Task Force) to investigate and prosecute violations of federal law harming the environment, wildlife and human health, and associated fraud, waste, and abuse.
Today’s announcement further underscores each agency’s ongoing commitment to environmental justice - a principle that combines civil rights with environmental protection by examining whether all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income are receiving fair treatment and meaningful involvement with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
On May 5, 2022, the Attorney General announced actions to enhance and advance the U.S. Department of Justice’s environmental justice (EJ) work. These efforts include the issuance of a Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy (Strategy), the creation of an Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) within the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), and the issuance of both an interim final rule rescinding the Department’s regulations at 28 C.F.R § 50.28 and a policy allowing the Department’s components to enter into settlement agreements that include payments under limited circumstances to non-governmental persons or entities that are not parties to the underlying litigation.
The creation of this Task Force builds upon those efforts by the Justice Department and brings together federal law enforcement agencies in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Those federal agencies will continue to work closely with their local counterparts, including the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and the USVI Attorney General’s Office.
Task Force Law Enforcement Agencies
Army - Criminal Investigation Division
Army Corps of Engineers
Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General
Department of Commerce – Office of Inspector General
Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations
Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General
Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division
Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Inspector General
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations
Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General
Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Office of Law Enforcement
U.S. Coast Guard – Sector San Juan
U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
“Environmental justice and ensuring that all residents of Puerto Rico enjoy a healthy environment free of hazardous waste and other pollutants is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department,” said United States Attorney Muldrow. “This Task Force will combine and leverage resources from many federal agencies to aggressively enforce civil and criminal environmental laws.”
“The United States Attorney’s Office, along with our federal and local partners, is committed to enforcing environmental laws. Our goal is to ensure that all our citizens receive protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to a healthy environment in which to live, learn, play and work”, United States Attorney Delia L. Smith said.
What Can You Do?
Reporting environmental, public health and safety concerns supports a safe community for all. U.S. Attorney Muldrow and U.S. Smith encourage Puerto Rico and USVI residents to use the following contact information to report violations to federal agencies.
If the violation concerns air quality, health, water, land, waste, chemicals and toxins (e.g. pesticides and lead paint), and/or a cleanup, contact the Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov/report-violation to report violations.
Denuncie violaciones ambientales | US EPA
If the violation concerns fraud, waste and abuse of an EPA program, operation, grant or contract, contact Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General at www.epa.gov/office-inspector-general/forms/epa-oig-hotline-complaint-form
If the violation concerns an oil or chemical spill, contact the National Response Center at 1-800-424-88022.
If the violation concerns a marine environment, contact the Coast Guard at www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=878 and/or Sector San Juan Command Center: 787-729-2041.
If the violation concerns federal marine resources, you should contact the www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/enforcement or hotline at 1-800-853-1964.
If the violation concerns harm to wildlife (e.g. pesticide misuse), contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 1-800-344-9453 or www.fws.gov/wildlife-crime-tips.
If the violation concerns wetlands or navigable waters, contact your local district branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Enforcement/.
If the violation concerns workplace conditions, such as chemicals or noxious fumes, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at 1-800-321-6742 or www.osha.gov/workers/file-complaint.
If the violation concerns housing conditions, contact the Department of Housing & Urban Development – Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) at 1-800-347-3735 or www.hudoig.gov/hotline/hotline-form.
If the violation concerns transportation of hazardous materials or a pipeline, contact the Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) at 1-800-424-9071 or www.oig.dot.gov/fraud-hotline
If the violation concerns medications, food products, devices, biological products, cosmetics, or other products for human consumption, contact the FDA at 1-800-332-0127 (toll-free) or https://www.fda.gov/safety/report-problem-fda.
If the violation concerns fraud, waste, and abuse related to U.S. Department of Commerce (including any entity receiving DOC funds) contact www.oig.doc.gov/Pages/Hotline.aspx
If the violation concerns discriminatory environmental and health impacts, contact DOJ Civil Rights at 1-855-856-1247 or https://civilrights.justice.gov/.
If the violation involves public corruption, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at https://tips.fbi.gov/.
For more information, please visit www.justice.gov/oej; www.epa.gov; www.justice.gov/usao/pr
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