Woman Arrested For Use Of Arson Or Explosives
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico– Today, United States Magistrate Judge Silvia Carreño-Coll authorized a criminal complaint against Nina Droz Franco, charging her for damaging or attempting to damage by means of fire a building engaged in activity affecting interstate commerce, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(i), announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. ATF is in charge of the investigation.
According to the information contained in the complaint, yesterday there were numerous protests in the San Juan Metro area, including on Ponce de Leon Street in Hato Rey-- San Juan, Puerto Rico. During the course of the protest on Ponce de Leon Street, numerous individuals vandalized the Popular Center building. This building houses various commercial establishments engaged in interstate commerce, including a bank and food establishments. After several individuals broke windows of the building, two individuals approached one of the broken windows and attempted to light a fire. Specifically, a female and a male approached one of the broken windows and lit a flame. All of these events were captured on video.
A while after this incident, agents of the Puerto Rico Police Department (“PRPD”) arrested the female depicted in the video for lying on a public road, refusing to comply with agents’ instructions, and then assaulting one of the agents. PRPD agents ultimately identified this female as Nina Alejandra Droz-Franco. At the time she was arrested, Droz-Franco was wearing clothing matching the description of the clothing she wore while lighting the flame at the Popular Center building.
“Yesterday, what was planned as a lawful and peaceful demonstration and protest took an unfortunate turn. In collaboration with our state and federal partners we will continue to investigate and prosecute these violent crimes. We cannot, and will not, tolerate these actions to go on in a civilized society,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
“The deplorable, reprehensible, and shameful acts of vandalism committed yesterday shall be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We warned that this administration would guarantee the rights of freedom of expression of all citizens, however those who violate the law shall not go unpunished,” said Wanda Vázquez-Garced, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.
“We want to call on people who can identify the demonstrators who used violence against law enforcement and damage to public and private buildings. Here we have a photo of one of the alleged people who thanks to the media could see his face. You can help us by calling 7873432020 confidentially or at policia.pr.gov,” said Henry Escalera, Deputy Superintendent of the Puerto Rico Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney Alexander Alum is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the penalties Droz-Franco is facing are a minimum term of imprisonment of five years, and a maximum term of 20 years, a supervised release term of not more than 3 years, and a fine not to exceed $250,000.