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Contraband
06/30/2011

ICE arrests former member of Puerto Rico's Olympic basketball team

Search warrant reveals a fully operational marijuana cultivation room

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A former member of Puerto Rico's Olympic basketball team was arrested Wednesday on drug charges by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

Jose Ortiz Ortiz-Rijos, aka Piculin, was arrested by ICE HSI agent at his residence located in Camino Las Parras, Barrio Toita 19, Cayey, Puerto Rico.

The search warrant executed by ICE HSI agents revealed 218 plants of marijuana, equipment to cultivate the drug, and 40 rounds of 5.56 caliber ammunition, similar and compatible with the ones used on an AR-15 type rifle.

The search warrant was signed and authorized by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Aida Delgado-Colon.

"The arrest of this former athlete on drug related charges has taken Puerto Rico by surprise," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Puerto Rico. "The apprehension of Piculin Ortiz should send a clear message that ICE HSI will not tolerate the proliferation of illegal drugs in Puerto Rico and that, with the assistance from other local, state and federal agencies, will not rest until those responsible for contaminating our communities with illegal drugs are brought to justice."

According to the criminal complaint, the ICE HSI search was conducted on the ground floor of Ortiz-Rijos' rented residence. Upon entering the ground floor, the agents immediately found a fully operational room for cultivating and growing marijuana.

Ortiz-Rijos faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years if found guilty in a court of law.