Puerto Rico reggaeton singers under DEA scrutiny
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Three Puerto Rican reggaeton stars have come under US scrutiny after recently performing at the wedding of an alleged drug trafficker in Colombia who had been presumed dead, a federal official said yesterday.
Singer Arcangel and duo Jowell & Randy were among seven Puerto Rican artistes present at the wedding of one whom the US Drug Enforcement Administration wants to question, said Pedro Janer, acting special agent in charge of the DEA's Caribbean division.
"We're definitely going to look into it," he said. "This guy was a pretty notorious drug trafficker."
The artists were performing at the weeklong wedding party of Camilo Torres, who is nicknamed "Fritanga" after a Colombian dish of fried meat. Colombian authorities raided the party in late June just hours after the wedding and arrested Torres, who Janer said had assumed a new identity after someone filed a false death certificate for him in 2010.
The party was held on the island of Mucara off Colombia's Caribbean coast and featured theme nights, fireworks and a bikini-clad bride.
The DEA wants to know how the artistes were contracted, how much they were paid and how they arrived in Colombia, among other things, he said.
"This guy was a significant trafficker, and to find seven guys from Puerto Rico there, even though they claim they were working, or performing, that's fine, but it's not the typical venue," Janer said.
The Puerto Ricans know things that "would probably be of very good use to the Colombian authorities," he added.
Uka Green, a publicist for Arcangel and his managing company, Pina Records, said DEA agents are welcome to interview anyone who was at the wedding. She said none of those present knew who was financing their performance.
"Of course they did not know the groom or the bride or anyone else," Green said. "This is a very unpleasant situation for all those involved. Obviously, we don't want to be making comments that do not contribute to the security and well-being of the employees who were there."
Pina Records issued its own statement denying that someone working with Arcangel had identified himself as a US police officer during the raid as alleged by Colombian media.
A man who answered the phone at Vallejo Enterprises, a company that represents reggaeton duo Jowell & Randy, declined to comment and said he did not know whether anyone would issue a statement.
Janer said he might ask the IRS and the US Attorney's Office for help, along with Puerto Rico's Treasury Department, if the DEA decides to fully investigate the case.
"If there's money involved, we would like to see what kind of finances these performers have," he said, adding that they typically
get paid double or triple what they normally charge.
It is rare for singers or other artistes to be directly accused of ties to drug trafficking since it's the promoters and managers who are involved in direct negotiations and sign the contracts, Janer said.
"The thing is, at what point does the artiste or the artiste's manager realise that this is drug money and that people behind it are drug traffickers?" he said. "That's what they claim they never know."