SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CMC) - Sixteen members of a drug trafficking and money laundering organisation have been arrested as United States federal law enforcement authorities move to deal with illegal drug trafficking in the Caribbean.
The authorities said those arrested are accused of importing multi-kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) and San Juan Police Department (SJPD) officers said on Friday that they have launched “Operation Overtime” as part of law enforcement's “overall strategy to combat drug trafficking in the Caribbean.
"The indictment and arrest of these individuals sends a clear message to those involved in drug trafficking and money laundering that HSI will go after them to bring them to justice and will seize the assets produced from their illicit activity," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI Puerto Rico.
Melendez said the 16 individuals are charged in three separate indictments with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States from the Dominican Republic.
He said one of the sixteen, Nick Irizarry-Rosado, is charged with “knowingly transmitting or transferring a Western Union money order for the amount of US$1,200 from the United States to the Dominican Republic, with the intent to promote the dealing of controlled substances.
Melendez said Irizarry-Rosado is facing money laundering forfeiture charges.
He said all of the defendants charged in the first indictment are facing a narcotics forfeiture allegation, which includes several boats and vehicles, as well as a parcel of land and residence known as Haciendas de Borinquen located in the Parguera Ward in the municipality of Lajas, Puerto Rico.
ICE said it was also encouraging the public to report suspected weapons and narcotics smuggling and related information.