• The San Juan Daily Star

Power struggle between gangs precipitated police occupation in Caguas

“The link between the Morales neighborhood and the violent incidents is that this is the main site of this conflict,” a police official said Wednesday.

By John McPhaul

A power struggle between Nelson “El Burro” Torres Delgado and the leader of another criminal organization from the Morales neighborhood of Caguas is the main reason for the violent incidents of the past few days that on Sunday took the life of retired teacher Margarita Rodríguez Morales.

“The link between the Morales neighborhood and the violent incidents is that this is the main site of this conflict,” said Col. Juan Cáceres, director of the Police Field Operations Bureau, at a press conference Wednesday. “That is why we have to occupy that place, to get all the information. We are working with all the intelligence and the intelligence tells us that this is the main place.”

Cáceres did not deny or confirm information indicating that Torres Delgado and his lieutenants allegedly invaded the Morales neighborhood and took out the operators of a drug point there, giving rise to a war that has played out in various public places.

As for whether “El Burro” can be directly linked to the death of the Yabucoa teacher, Cáceres said that at the moment they have not ruled it out, but neither can they confirm it. Three people have been arrested in connection with the woman’s death, but it is still not known if the bullet that killed Rodríguez Morales came out of a firearm fired by one of the three.

“Our priority now, in addition to providing security for the people of Caguas, is to clear this murder,” Cáceres said.

On whether it is a good strategy to occupy the Morales neighborhood indefinitely, Caguas Mayor William Miranda Torres said the criminal gang’s finances suffer every day that the authorities remain there.

“How much [income] does a week represent to you? How much does one month represent? What if your customers move elsewhere and don’t want to go back there?” the mayor said. “These are issues that we evaluate day by day and the indefinite time will be determined at the time.”

When asked if the police believe that the public shootings will continue, Cáceres replied that “our intelligence work says no, but we are not going to rule anything out.”

“We will be prepared,” he said. “The Caguas region has been reinforced with officers from different places and we will be working on this problem until the problem is solved. We are going to arrest the person; we want to file the murder case, arrest people, and we want people to feel safe in Caguas and, secondly, that they give us all the information through 787-343-2020.”

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