United States And Colombian Law Enforcement Authorities Execute Arrests In Puerto Rico And Colombia Dismantling International Drug Trafficking Organization
SAN JUAN, PR – During the past two weeks, United States federal agents, in coordination with Colombian law enforcement authorities, executed 14 arrest warrants in Puerto Rico and Colombia dismantling an international drug trafficking organization responsible for the importation of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine into the United States through Puerto Rico announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez today.
The arrests stem from two indictments filed in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
The first indictment charges Aureliano Acevedo-Hernández, a.k.a. “Ciro/Morado”; John Edinson García-Rodríguez, a.k.a. “Pirata”; Dalbelto Rincón, a.k.a. “Bambam/Marco Tulio Sánchez-Muñoz”; Julio Aníbal González-Compres, a.k.a. “Winston”; Jairo Andrés Cruz-Coronel, a.k.a “Jairo/Jairito”; Julio César Rojas-Betancourt, a.k.a. “Fresa”; Campo Edison Quintero-Arturo, a.k.a. “Coronel”; Luis Alberto Jaimes-Nuñez, a.k.a. “Beto”; and Jairo Gómez-Guerra, a.k.a. “Jairito” among others with conspiracy to possess, manufacture, or distribute controlled substances for purposes of unlawful importation into the United States; and possession, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances for purposes of unlawful importation into the United States. The indictment contains a forfeiture allegation for the proceeds obtained as a result of the organization’s illegal activities, and property used to commit or to facilitate the commission of the crime.
The second indictment charges Miguel Ángel Agosto-Pacheco, a.k.a. “Chino”; Jerry Omar Hernández-Peña; Anthony Jael Abreu-Matos; Luis Ángel Ramos-Cordero; Juan Tapia-Soto; and another person with conspiracy to import controlled substances; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances; and attempted possession of controlled substances. The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation for the proceeds obtained as a result of the organization’s illegal activities, and property used to commit or to facilitate the commission of the crime. These defendants were arrested in Vieques, Fajardo, and Levittown in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.
“These arrests are a strong indication of the success of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program in the fight against drug trafficking. The arrests dismantled an organization that coordinated the importation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into Puerto Rico from Colombia. The individuals named in these indictments are now facing long terms of imprisonment,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue maximizing our multi-agency and international efforts and will combine resources to investigate and prosecute those who disregard our laws and smuggle drugs into our jurisdiction, and increase the incidence of violent crimes in our communities.”
DEA Caribbean Division Special Agent in Charge, AJ Collazo, stated, “We will remain resilient in DEA’s mission, tracking and dismantling Transnational Criminal Organizations as this one. Our agency’s joint efforts with federal, local and foreign host nation counterparts like the Colombian Cuerpo Técnico de Investigaciones (CTI) will continue to be focused on aggressively pursuing the members of these organizations across the sea, to let them know that drug trafficking and money laundering through our region will not be tolerated.”
The arrests are the result of a long-term international drug trafficking investigation led by special agents from the DEA in Puerto Rico and the “Cuerpo Técnico de Investigaciones” (CTI) in Colombia under Operation Devil’s Trail. The investigation has resulted in the seizure of over 2,000 kilograms of cocaine and the arrest of 30 defendants under 7 different indictments filed in the District of Puerto Rico. The FBI, IRS, United States Marshal Service (USMS), United States Coast Guard (USCG), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Puerto Rico Police Maritime Unit “Fuerzas Unidas de Rápida Acción” (FURA), and Colombian prosecutors from “Dirección Especializada Contra Lavado de Activos” (DECLA) also participated in this investigation.
Operation Devil’s Trail is part of the OCDETF program. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
The investigation was coordinated by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Carlos R. Cardona, lead OCDETF attorney in Puerto Rico and Prosecutor Alfredo Vasquez Macias in Colombia. The cases are being prosecuted in Puerto Rico by AUSAs Carlos R. Cardona and Laura Montes, under the supervision AUSA Julia Diaz, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Unit.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Narcotic and Dangerous Drugs Section of the United States Department of Justice, Special Operation Division in Chantilly, Virginia; the United States Department of Justice Office of International Affairs; the office of the Judicial Attaché of the US Embassy in Colombia; DEA special agents in Bogota, Colombia; and the Colombian CTI and DECLA for their assistance and support provided in this investigation.
The defendants are facing terms of imprisonment from 10 years to life. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.