Seven Puerto Rico Police Officers Charged With Rico Act Violations
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico– Seven Puerto Rico police officers from the Caguas Drug Unit have been charged in a superseding indictment for their alleged participation in criminal acts, announced U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico. The FBI is in charge of the investigation.
On May 21, 2018, four police officers assigned to the Caguas Drug Unit (CDU): Eidderf Jhave Ramos-Ortiz, a.k.a. “Baby”; Juan Carlos Ortiz-Vázquez, a.k.a. “Juan C.;” Christian Rodríguez-Cruz; and Eric Velázquez-Martínez were charged by a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico for drug trafficking and firearms violations. Today, those four defendants, along with Ramón Cotto-Centeno; Luis Rivera-Ruiz, a.k.a. “Chopa/Agua Dulce”; and Jorge Muñoz-Martínez were charged in a superseding indictment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act).
From in or about July 2014 the defendants together with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, being persons employed by and associated with the CDU, an enterprise engaged in, and the activities of which affected, interstate and foreign commerce, knowingly and unlawfully conducted and participated, directly and indirectly, in the conduct of the enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity. The pattern of racketeering activity consisted of the following acts: extortion, attempted extortion, extortion conspiracy and drug conspiracy, and possession with intent to distribute narcotics.
The defendants were sworn police officers with the CDU. The defendants violated the legitimate purposes of the CDU in order to enrich themselves through illegal conduct, including extortion, robbery, and the distribution of narcotics.
Eidderf Jhave Ramos-Ortiz is now facing one count for RICO Act violations, five counts for extortion under color of official right, three counts for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marihuana, five counts for carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and three counts for possession with intent to distribute marihuana.
Defendant Juan Carlos Ortiz-Vázquez is facing one count for RICO Act violations, four counts for extortion under color of official right, three counts for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marihuana, and three counts for carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. Defendants Christian Rodríguez-Cruz and Eric Velázquez-Martínez are facing one count for RICO Act violations, four counts for extortion under color of official right, one count for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marihuana, and one count for carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Defendant Ramón Cotto-Centeno is facing one count for RICO Act violations, one count for extortion under color of official right, and one count for possession with intent to distribute tramadol, a Schedule IV Controlled Substance. Defendants Luis Rivera-Ruiz and Jorge Muñoz Martínez are facing one count for RICO Act violations.
“The purpose of the Caguas Drug Unit is to combat drug trafficking, firearms and ammunition trafficking, among other related crimes, and these officers were behaving like the criminals they were supposed to be apprehending. They not only betrayed the citizens they were sworn to protect, they also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners to pursue corruption wherever it lies,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
“Today’s charges represent a grave breach of the oath taken by these sworn officers. Fortunately, those accused represent only a very small percentage of the brave men and women of the Puerto Rico Police Department, who serve only to protect the citizens of Puerto Rico. In fact, the FBI’s continued efforts to clean up corruption and civil rights violations have been assisted by the full cooperation of the leadership of the Puerto Rico Police Department,’ stated Douglas Leff, Special Agent in Charge of FBI, San Juan.
Assistant U.S. Attorney José A. Contreras is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If found guilty, all defendants are facing up to 20 years for the RICO Act violations, 20 years for extortion under official rights, up to five years for drug trafficking violations, and five years up to life in prison for the firearms charges. The charges contained in the superseding indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Citizens of Puerto Rico with allegations of law enforcement corruption are encouraged to contact the FBI’s San Juan Division at (787) 754-6000.
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