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Press Release

Three Port of San Juan Employees Arrested for Narcotics Violations

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging Carlos Alberto Hernández-Laguer, a/k/a “Brea”, Luis Roberto De León-Sánchez, a/k/a “Coco”, and Misael Ruiz-Valentín, a/k/a “Misa”, with four counts of conspiracy to import cocaine, importation of cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

On November 6, 2023, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Juan, Seaport-Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) and partner agencies, arrested three longshoremen working at the Port of San Juan for their involvement in facilitating the transportation of narcotics between the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Continental United States.

According to court documents, on or about June 7, 2022, the defendants intentionally conspired and agreed to possess, import, and distribute cocaine into the United States from the Dominican Republic. The HSI San Juan Seaport-BEST investigation revealed that the three Port of San Juan longshoremen were members of a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) operating between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. These longshoremen exploited their positions to circumvent security and smuggle large quantities of cocaine concealed in cargo ship containers and compartments/voids within the cargo ships.

“Disrupting drug trafficking networks is vitally important to our ongoing efforts to combat the drug trafficking in Puerto Rico and the violence associated with drug trafficking,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “International cartels like these affect many jurisdictions and stopping them requires robust coordination with our domestic and international partners.”

HSI San Juan Special Agent in Charge, Rebecca González-Ramos said: “Our agents are relentless in their efforts to protect our borders by dismantling any criminal scheme that facilitates the entrance of poisonous narcotics into our island.  This multi-agency law enforcement collaboration is a great example of the work we are doing to detect any intent to smuggle deadly contraband into our communities. With these arrests, HSI is sending a clear and strong message: nobody is above the law, we will find those who violate the law and hold them accountable for their decisions -- especially those in critical positions in our ports that create vulnerabilities to our island.”

If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in jail and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This significant operation was successful with the support of U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations San Juan, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Coast Guard Investigative Services and CBP Air and Marine Operations.

Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Max Pérez-Bouret, Chief of the Transnational Organized Crime Section, AUSA María L. Montañez-Concepción, Deputy Chief of the Transnational Organized Crime Section, and AUSA Camille García-Jiménez are prosecuting the case.

For more information about HSI’s efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations visit: Homeland Security Investigations. To report suspicious activities, please call (787) 729-6969 (24 hours, 7 days a week).

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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About Homeland Security Investigations

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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Updated November 8, 2023

Topic
Drug Trafficking