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Puerto rico to miami cocaine trafficking ring busted

Posted on September 16, 2009 3:00 AM EST

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency arrested 21 people in Puerto Rico and one person in Miami for their involvement in a massive Puerto Rico to Miami cocaine trafficking ring. Two defendants remain at large in the San Juan, Puerto Rico area. Those arrested or soon to be arrested are accused of sending cocaine laden suitcases to Miami and Orlando. Nine of the 23 people were American Airlines employees with ties to the Orlando and Miami International Airport.

All of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine in excess of 19,800 pounds aboard commercial flights from Puerto Rico to Miami and Orlando. If convicted, the defendants face a potential sentence of life in prison and extensive fines. The case will appear in federal court either in Puerto Rico or Miami. It is unclear whether any of those arrested have hired Miami criminal lawyers at this point. Due the severity of the possible penalties set forth in Federal Sentencing Guidelines, it would behoove the defendants to hire only the most experienced Miami drug crime lawyers to defend their cases.

The indictment alleges that the ring leader of the Puerto Rico to Miami cocaine trafficking ring is Wilfredo Rodriguez-Rosado. Rodriguez-Rosado has been employed by American Airlines since 1999. The federal indictment alleges that he recruited American Airline employees to load cocaine laden suitcases onto commercial flights bound for cities in the United States, including Miami and Orlando. The Puerto Rico to Miami cocaine trafficking ring allegedly smuggled more than $19 million dollars of cocaine into the United States.

DEA Special Agent in Charge, Javier Pena, said with respect to the cocaine trafficking arrests, "With these arrests, the DEA closes another route for thousands of kilograms of cocaine to reach the United States or any other part of the world from Puerto Rico." According to reports, Puerto Rico has been a conduit for drug trafficking (including cocaine and marijuana) and weapons smuggling for years. Jet Blue and Comair employees were previously arrested and charged in federal court for their involvement in these crimes. Those arrests resulted in the legislation of more stringent security measures at airports. Apparently, the legislative changes have not impeded the drug and weapons smuggling operations out of Puerto Rico.

U.S. Anti-drug Swoop Arrests American Airlines Staff, Reuters, September 15, 2009.

American Airlines: Orlando Linked to Caribbean Drug Ring, Orlando Sentinel, September 16, 2009.

Categories: Drug Offenses