By Richard Gutiérrez
The Puerto Rico Police Bureau on Tuesday detailed a major operation that has resulted in the arrest of dozens of suspects who, Police Commissioner Antonio López Figueroa said, were involved in violent crimes, and more than 180 people were connected to drug and weapon sales.
“The operation started out last Wednesday and has been extended until today October 31st,” López Figueroa said at a press conference in Bayamón. “Nearly 400 people have been arrested for heinous crimes, people coming from around 76 towns.”
“There was interaction with more than 12 illegal organizations, and there were around 139 drug and weapon transactions which led to 189 arrest orders, and since Wednesday, 191 additional individuals who were caught selling illegal drugs and weapons and arrested,” he added.
There were also 64 raids conducted against individuals who were members of the aforementioned illegal organizations. On top of the 380 arrests that have already been made, additional arrests could be made over the course of the next few days, a result of work that continues, the police chief said.
The operation, called “Unmasking Crime,” is far from over, López Figueroa said. One notable factor is that many of the crimes behind the charges were perpetrated in family groups. The Clemente family in Toa Baja is one of those families. López Figueroa said another family was caught in Coamo after the town’s mayor filed complaints. Throughout the operation some 78 firearms were confiscated along with 50 vehicles, and some $100,000 in dirty money was also collected.
López Figueroa said authorities are working together with the public in order to establish peace in Puerto Rico.
He said a large portion of the confidential investigations, which were carried out in different phases, arose in response to complaints from citizens about illegal activities that disrupted peace in their communities.
“This operation is the best evidence that citizens’ complaints are being heard and addressed,” the island’s top cop said. “There are situations that take years of investigation and that strategically do not come to light until they are concluded. Not all agents work on patrols with screens and sirens, many work hard from anonymity to reduce the incidence of crime in the communities. The police officers who made these arrests today are those who do not travel in marked patrol cars or wear uniforms. If the mechanisms of those who violate the laws change, then the police reinforce their strategies to combat crime.”
“We have compelling evidence to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt, thanks to the titanic work of prosecutors from the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Division, as well as the 13 district attorney’s offices, along with the brave men and women who worthily represent the Puerto Rico Police,” López Figueroa said.
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández added: “Starting today, the 380 defendants arrested throughout the island will not be able to continue committing crimes because they will be criminally prosecuted.”
“Their criminal actions are over,” he said.
The police commissioner noted that there are 35 individuals left that were known to have been involved in heinous crimes and they will be persecuted. However, he called on those still at large to turn themselves in to the police.