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Press Release

Two Men Indicted for Environmental Crimes Committed in the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Las Mareas Community of Salinas, Puerto Rico

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

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On May 10, 2023, a Federal Grand Jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned two separate indictments charging Luis Enrique Rodríguez Sánchez and Pedro Luis Bones Torres with violations of the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, and Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  The charges relate to the illegal construction and deposit of material into the wetlands and waters of the United States in the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (the “Jobos Estuarine Reserve”) and Las Mareas community of Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Various federal agencies are involved in this ongoing investigation into environmental crimes in the Jobos Estuarine Reserve and Las Mareas community, including the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division (Army-CID), U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General (DOC-OIG), National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA-OLE), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (FW‑OLE).

According to the indictments, from approximately January 2020 through October 2022, Luis Enrique Rodríguez Sánchez (Rodríguez Sánchez) and Pedro Luis Bones Torres (Bones Torres) knowingly discharged fill material from excavation and earth moving equipment into the wetlands and waters of the United States in violation of the Clean Water Act. Rodríguez Sánchez and Bones Torres are also charged with building structures within the navigable waters of the United States without authorization of the Secretary of the Army, in violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act.

The Clean Water Act was enacted by Congress in 1972 to protect and maintain the integrity of the waters of the United States. The Clean Water Act’s main purpose is to ensure the restoration and maintenance of the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. It prohibits the discharge of any pollutant and fill material into waters of the United States except when a permit is obtained from the United States.

The Rivers and Harbors Act was originally enacted in 1899 and is generally considered the oldest environmental law in the United States. It serves to regulate and protect the navigable waters of the United States and prohibits the un-permitted construction of structures within those waters.

Both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act protect the coastal waters within the JBNERR.

The Jobos Estuarine Reserve was designated as a National Estuarine Research Reserve by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1981 and is comprised of approximately 2,800 acres of coastal ecosystems in the Southern coastal plain of Puerto Rico. The Jobos Estuarine Reserve contains mangrove islands, mangrove forests, tidal wetlands, coral reefs, lagoons, salt flats, dry forest, and seagrass beds. It is also home to the endangered brown pelican, peregrine falcon, hawksbill turtle, and West Indian manatee. The Jobos Estuarine Reserve is owned and operated by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PR‑DNER).

Both Rodríguez Sánchez and Bones Torres were arrested and are scheduled to appear today before Magistrate Judge Marshal D. Morgan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico for their respective initial appearances. If convicted, the defendants are facing up to a total of four years of imprisonment, fines, and injunctive relief to remove violative structures.

“These cases demonstrate our commitment to protecting wetland ecosystems, which have many public and environmental benefits,” said Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “Coastal wetlands protect communities from storm surges and hurricanes, protect vulnerable species from exploitation, stabilize estuaries, and provide natural water filtration that improves water quality.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to enforcing federal environmental protection laws and to holding violators responsible for the harm caused. These laws protect the animals, resources, and habitats within Puerto Rico, the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Las Mareas community. The unpermitted construction, pollution, and fill within these protected waters of the United States also poses flooding and hurricane mitigation concerns for surrounding communities. As such, they are a priority for federal environmental enforcement efforts,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. 

“The coastal wetlands of Puerto Rico are an important resource, providing habitat for numerous endangered species and serving as a natural buffer from the effects of hurricanes and flooding, events which are only increasing with climate change,” said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon for the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division. “Coastal habitats in Puerto Rico have been habitually exploited and abused by developers and illegal tenants, but today’s indictments show that EPA and our federal law enforcement partners are actively working to stop these illegal activities and to protect these areas for future generations.”

“The preservation and protection of the world which we all share is both our collective and individual responsibility. What you see today is the result of that collective responsibility taken to heart by those of us who are called to serve and protect,” said Joseph González, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “Our commitment in the FBI is to investigate and curtail threats to our public safety and national security to the fullest extent, and we are fully engaged with our local and federal partners to make that happen. Wherever violations of federal law may take place, expect to see the FBI working hand in hand with our partners. The message should be clear, environmental protection laws will be enforced and violators should expect consequences.”

“Today’s actions send a clear signal that the Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General (DOC-OIG) is dedicated to investigating potential fraud, waste and abuse in projects receiving funding from the NOAA. DOC-OIG greatly appreciates the cooperative efforts of our prosecutorial and law enforcement partners as we seek to enforce laws protecting the environment and natural beauty of Puerto Rico,” said Jeffrey Lysaght, Special Agent in Charge, U.S Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Southeast Special Agent in Charge Stephen Clark stated, “We continue to work with our partners in the protection of fragile ecosystems that serve as home for native wildlife species and will continue to bring to justice those who seek to exploit these resources with complete disregard of the consequences it brings to the people and natural resources of Puerto Rico.”

“We are dedicated to enforcing the laws that conserve and protect our nation’s marine resources and their natural habitat,” said Manny Antonaras, Assistant Director of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division. “This case highlights the importance of our ongoing collaborations with law enforcement partners working together to hold those who break the rules accountable.”

“We are very pleased with today’s announcement,” said Special Agent in Charge L. Scott Moreland, from the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division’s Major Procurement Fraud Field Office. “This is a true testament to our continued commitment to work closely with our fellow law enforcement agencies to investigative violations of Federal law.”

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Patrick M. Duggan of the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth A. Erbe, Environmental Litigation Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.

These indictments are part of an ongoing investigation. If you have any information related to this investigation or environmental crimes in the area, please contact enforcement officials, which may be done anonymously. The EPA can be contacted at (787) 977-5821 or at  The FBI can be contacted at (787) 987-6500 or

For more information on the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Reserve, please visit or

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


Updated May 11, 2023

Environmental Justice