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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ex-DNER secretary: Cease & desist order issued in Salinas in July 2015

Former Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Carmen Guerrero

By The Star Staff

Former Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Carmen Guerrero said Wednesday that between June and July 2015, she had to deal with squatters setting up houses in the wetland of the area of the Camino del Indio in the community of Las Mareas in Salinas.

DNER Reserve and Ranger Corps personnel (led by Sergeant Colón) issued orders to cease and desist. The Reserve team and the Rangers develop reports on illegal construction, landfilling and rubble, and deforestation on farmland, which were presented to the Legal Affairs Office of the DNER on July 27, 2015.

According to the report of the Reserve biologist, an estimated total of 732 trees were felled in a total deforested area of 2,297 square meters (0.57 acres).

With input from the Office of Legal Affairs, the Rangers and Reserve personnel, signed and issued a cease and desist order (no. 15-239-ZMT) on July 28, 2015 against Guillermo Godreau Veguilla, Santiago Rolón Vázquez, Carlos Manuel García Alvarado, and John Doe.

“This intervention … to exercise Cease and Desist was coordinated by the commissioner of the Security Corps, Ángel Cruz, with personnel from the West Area Ranger Corps,” Guerrero said. “On July 29, 2015, the cease and desist order was delivered.”

The cease and desist order imposed hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and required restoration actions due to all the alleged violations of various laws and environmental regulations of the DNER, including regulations to govern the conservation and management of wildlife, exotic species and hunting. Once the order was issued, the agency also published a press release to make known in regional and national media in Puerto Rico the matter of high public interest regarding environmental violations.

“It is necessary to establish that the processes of complaints, fines, and cease and desist require that an administrative process be followed where the evidence is presented by the parties, there is to give due process of law and the accused party may request a review or go to appeal to the courts, if you are not satisfied with the decision of the head of the agency,” the former official said.

In this regard, the Office of Official Examiners scheduled an administrative hearing on Aug. 20, 2015, Guerrero said.

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