The San Juan Daily Star
Drug gang busted in tourist areas of Isla Verde, Condado
By John McPhaul
Puerto Rico Police Bureau Commissioner Antonio López Figueroa, along with Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández, announced on Monday the dismantling of a gang that was dedicated to the sale of controlled substances in the tourist areas of Isla Verde and Condado.
López Figueroa noted that since the weekend around 50 arrests have been made and 21 motor vehicles have been seized along with money, drugs and three firearms.
“With these arrests, the dismantling of an extensive scheme for the sale of controlled substances, among others, which involved employees of businesses in the area, was achieved,” the police commissioner said at a press conference. “This operation arises as a result of a complaint that originated in September of last year due to concerns and complaints to the Puerto Rico Police by residents and some hotels located in that tourist area.”
“The individuals were engaged in the sale of cocaine and marijuana. Their main clients were tourists and guests of hotels in the area,” López Figueroa added. “They operated independently, although some knew each other and conducted coordinated transactions.”
The commissioner said another mode of sale of controlled substances in the area was the delivery method.
The Justice secretary pointed out that during the course of the operation the Prosecutor’s Office filed a total of 61 charges against all those arrested on Monday for violations of the Controlled Substances Law of Puerto Rico.
“The strategic work between the Police and the Department of Justice continues to generate results of great impact for the benefit of citizens,” Emanuelli Hernández said. “These schemes affect the safety of residents and tourists who visit our island. The participation of prosecutors Héctor Siaca Flores and Begoña de Jesús Meléndez, in the investigative stage during this and other operations, reinforces the evidence collection procedure and allows us to present solid cases that meet the rigor and standard required by the courts.”
Prosecutor Janet Parra Mercado, who directs the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Narcotics Division, noted that “60 charges were filed against the defendants for violations of article 401 on the sale of controlled substances, and one charge for infringing article 412, which prohibits the use of paraphernalia.”
“The coordinated work between prosecutors and agents prevents the defense from resorting to technicalities to challenge the collection of evidence,” she added.
“This operation was carried out carefully and strategically, in several stages, so as not to impact the commercial and tourist activity in the area, which also has a residential component,” López Figueroa said. “One of the phases of the operation consisted of inspecting businesses in the area to ensure full compliance. The last phase began on Sunday and concluded at dawn on Monday.”