131 Indicted in Puerto Rico for Alleged Drug Trafficking Crimes; Includes 89 Law Enforcement Officers

Eighty-nine law enforcement officers and 44 others in Puerto Rico have been charged in 26 indictments unsealed today and returned by a grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the month of September 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico announced today.

The individuals face charges ranging from conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and use of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense. The offenses charged cover a period from in or about July 26, 2008 until September 21, 2010.

The arrests today are the result of Operation Guard Shack, the largest police corruption investigation in the history of the FBI. Close to 750 FBI agents were flown in to Puerto Rico from across the country to assist in the arrests early this morning. Currently 129 individuals are in custody and four subjects remain at-large.

The indictments unsealed today are the result of 125 undercover drug transactions conducted by the FBI in several locations in Puerto Rico, from July 2008 until September 2010. The individuals’ participation in the drug transactions consisted of allegedly providing armed protection to a drug dealer during the sale of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine. Allegedly, in exchange for their security services during the undercover drug transactions, the individuals, a majority of whom are law enforcement officers, received payments ranging from $500 to $4,500 per transaction.

In a sting operation like this, there is always the issue of whether the undercover transactions were manipulated by the agents to become a form of entrapment. Unfortunately, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies typically use tactics when investigating individuals that could be conceived as entrapment. Meaning, the undercover agents “entrap” an individual by luring him into an illegal situation. These type of situations are legal, and usually always result in an arrest of the individual that was tricked into such a situation.

The law enforcement officers indicted today are from the following agencies: 60 defendants from the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD); 16 defendants from various municipal police departments; and 12 officers from the Puerto Rico Corrections Department. The remaining defendants include: three Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers; two U.S. Army officers; eight former law enforcement officers; one administrative examiner in child support matters; one employee from the Social Security Administration; and 30 civilians.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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