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Smuggling arrests made in puerto rico

Posted on June 07, 2012 12:00 AM EST

Puerto Rico's International Airport was once again the scene for a large-scale drug trafficking bust. Thirty-three people were arrested for their alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar drug smuggling and importation ring. Three other individuals were arrested at Miami International Airport and the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Investigators believe that the cocaine and heroin trafficking operations were a joint effort between two Puerto Rican drug trafficking organizations. The case will most likely be prosecuted in Puerto Rico or Miami, with criminal lawyers from either venue prosecuting and defending the case. The Puerto Rico airport has been a main hub for the importation and exportation of controlled substances for years.

According to the DEA, those arrested for heroin and cocaine trafficking are responsible for the importation of thousands of pounds of the illegal substances into Miami, Florida and Newark, New Jersey from 1999 to 2009. As a result of the investigation, 45 arrest warrants were issued by the federal government. Twelve of the warrants targeted former and current employees of American Airlines. Multiple warrants also involved multiple employees of Ground Motive Dependable, a company contracted by the airport to transfer, load and unload baggage. Other people sought via arrests warrants are an employee of Cape Air and a government employee working for the port authority.

The drug trafficking ring is alleged to have operated with airport or airline employees smuggling drugs into the airport in their bags or privately owned vehicles. Once the drugs passed through security, the illegal substances were transferred to other employees that would load the contraband onto aircraft bound for the United States. The current arrests for trafficking stem from an operation that began in 2009 that led to the arrests of several American Airlines employees. In 2010, several employees of Ground Motive Dependable were also arrested as part of the same investigation. The information that led to the new arrest warrants probably came from information provided by defendants arrested in the 2009 and 2010 operations.

According to federal authorities, Puerto Rico has been a hub for narcotics trafficking for a long time. With that, Puerto Rican law enforcement is seeking more federal funding to combat the problem. Approximately 70% of the narcotics that enter Puerto Rico are headed for the continental United States. According to records kept by the feds, the size of cocaine shipments intercepted in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have by increasing year over year. Last year, 10,800 pounds of cocaine was intercepted while 8,200 pounds have already been seized this year. Puerto Rico's police chief has asked for additional funding claiming that an increased budget should make it easier to catch drug traffickers.

DEA Makes Smuggling Arrests in Puerto Rico, Miami Herald.com, June 6, 2012.
Categories: Drug Offenses