SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico.- The FBI on Tuesday announced the bust of a powerful drug trafficking ring in Puerto Rico, which made more than US$100.0 million with operations in the United States and Dominican Republic, AP reports.
The 27 detainees are accused of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic and sell it in the continental United States as well as on the island. The organization used the money to buy vessels, vehicles, and companies, according to the indictment.
"These people made up one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, in Puerto Rico and possibly in the Caribbean in the last 20 years," said by phone Carlos Cases, FBI special agent in charge in Puerto Rico.
The group’s former leaders and members include convicted Puerto Rican kingpin José Figueroa Agosto, once called the "the Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean", and Angel Ayala Vázquez (Angelo Millones), formerly considered Puerto Rico’s top drug dealer, sentenced to a long prison term in December 2011.
All those arrested face charge of mobilizing at least nine tons of cocaine from May 2005 to June 2010, and of shipping at least eight million dollars in cash to the Dominican Republic aboard a private yacht, said the office of the federal prosecutor.
The defendants include Edgar Rivera Collazo, a prominent businessman, who owns a transport and trash collection company with several contracts with Puerto Rico’s Government and various towns, said the federal prosecutor Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, adding that he owns a yacht and is facing of money laundering charges.
FBI spokesman Moses Quiñones said at least 18 of the 27 detainees were arrested in Puerto Rico and in states including Texas, Florida and California.