SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), San Juan Municipal Police and other members of Operation Caribbean Resilience, arrested Saturday a Juncos resident for possession of illegal weapons while engaged in drug trafficking.
Joaquin Diaz-Alvarez, 23, was arrested at the Colinas de Magnolia public housing project after officers assigned to Operation Caribbean Resilience noticed a strong odor of what appeared to be marijuana emanating from the vehicle he occupied.
Officers also recognized audible police radio transmissions that were consistent with that of a police radio scanner being utilized by the occupant. As the officers approached the vehicle they observed Diaz-Alvarez wearing a black bag around his waist with several bags containing what appeared to be marijuana, which were visible through the front mesh face of the bag.
A search of the bag revealed three small, hard plastic containers and two plastic bags with marijuana as well as 33 Percocet and six Oxycodone pills. A digital police scanner was also found in Diaz-Alvarez’s possession.
A subsequent inventory of the vehicle occupied by Diaz-Alvarez revealed a hidden compartment in which agents found two Glock pistols, five Glock magazines, five rifle magazines and 450 small bags of marijuana. The agents continued inspecting the vehicle and discovered another hydraulic secret compartment in the dashboard in which they found a rifle, a Glock pistol and U.S. currency.
"HSI and its Operation Caribbean Resilience partners will continue to coordinate its efforts with interagency partners in Puerto Rico, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice to address violent crime on the island," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Our efforts in combating violent crimes in Puerto Rico will not cease, on the contrary, we will continue working hand-by-hand with our Caribbean Resilience partners to identify, investigate and arrest those who terrorize our communities with drug-related violent crimes."
Special Assistant United States Attorney Kelly Zenón is in charge of the prosecution.
As part of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) continued commitment to Puerto Rico, the department has expanded HSI’s Operation Caribbean Resilience. The operation, which focuses on interrupting and dismantling criminal organizations, as well as identifying and arresting individuals involved in criminal activity in Puerto Rico, was expanded through September 2013 and received additional agents and resources.
Operation Caribbean Resilience is a joint initiative led by HSI with support from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Coast Guard, including the Puerto Rico Police Department and the Municipal Police Departments of San Juan, Ponce, and Toa Alta. DHS is augmenting the local enforcement efforts with 30 additional HSI special agents and resources. Their efforts will focus on high intensity crime areas with a nexus to transnational criminal operations.
Since its inception in January 2012, Operation Caribbean Resilience has led to 623 federal and state arrests; and the seizure of 505 illegal weapons, more than 33,000 rounds of ammunition, more than $399,000 in cash, and various quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine.
Operation Caribbean Resilience began in the municipality of Loiza, a town considered by law enforcement to be an area of high intensity criminal activity. Under Operation Caribbean Resilience, Loiza, experienced a 50 percent decrease in homicides between January to May of 2012, as compared to the same period during 2011, as well as a 78 percent decrease in robbery and a 52 percent decrease in assault.
The initiative was later expanded to the Caguas and San Juan areas where it experienced similar results.