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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Individuals Indicted Separately And Arrested For Carjacking Murder, Carjacking Resulting In Serious Bodily Harm, And Firearms Offenses

SAN JUAN, P.R. – On August 14, 2019, a federal grand jury returned two separate indictments charging Carlos Rafael Rosario-Morales and Héctor L. Maldonado-Sierra for two separate violent crime events, announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The FBI and the Puerto Rico Police Department are in charge of the investigation.

Carlos Rafael Rosario-Morales is charged with carjacking resulting in death. On August 6, 2019, the defendant, with intent to cause death or serious bodily harm, took a 2017 white Ford Transit that had been transported, shipped, and received in interstate or foreign commerce, by force, violence, and intimidation, and in so doing murdered Uber Eats driver Carlos Gilberto Ponce-Fernández.

According to the investigation, on August 6, the victim was exiting a fast food restaurant in Santurce, PR after having picked up food. As he walked to his vehicle, the defendant approached him, brandished a knife, and demanded Ponce-Fernández hand him the keys to his vehicle, but the victim refused to do so, and they engaged in a physical struggle. During the struggle, Rosario-Morales stabbed Ponce-Fernández multiple times, causing his death.

On August 7, 2019, police officers arrested Rosario-Morales while entering the Ford Transit he had violently stolen the day prior. At the time of the arrest, Rosario-Morales had a knife in his waistband.

In a separate case, defendant Héctor L. Maldonado-Sierra is charged in a two-count indictment with carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury, and possession and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. On July 26, 2019, the defendant, aided and abetted by others, with the intent to cause death or serious bodily harm and possessing and brandishing a firearm, took a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited that had been transported, shipped, and received in interstate or foreign commerce, from the person and in the presence of an adult male and an adult female, by force, violence, and intimidation, and in so doing caused serious bodily injury to the female victim in committing a sexual act.   

“We are aware that there is concern about the number of carjackings reported in the last month. The mission of all Puerto Rico law enforcement agencies, both state and federal, is to ensure that we all feel safe in our streets, homes and neighborhoods. All law enforcement agencies are working together to prevent and solve these crimes, and to apprehend those who are a threat to our communities,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “I commend the PRPD agents, the FBI agents, and the prosecutors for their excellent work in bringing these defendants to justice.”

“The FBI and our partners have never been more determined to investigate any violent robbery to its ultimate consequences. Those youths, who are unable to say no to committing violence against others, should give it some serious consideration, because otherwise they will very likely spend a large part of their adult lives in prison,” said Douglas A. Leff, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Puerto Rico.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alexander Alum. The FBI and Puerto Rico Police Department are in charge of the investigation. If convicted, Carlos Rafael Rosario-Morales faces up to life in prison and is eligible for the death penalty; Héctor L. Maldonado-Sierra faces 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.

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Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated August 16, 2019