SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, working jointly with other Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) officers, arrested two men yesterday for failure to report monies after the vessel they were traveling in with approximately $1.7 million in cash was spotted and intercepted by U.S. Customs and Protection (CBP), Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) patrol aircraft and marine enforcement units.
Juan Quinones-Rosario, a 46-year-old sergeant in the Puerto Rico Police Department, and Raul Bosques-Caro, 40, owner of Don Raul Restaurant in Aguada, Puerto Rico, were traveling westbound from the west coast of Puerto Rico when their 27-foot boat, Natalia, was spotted by a CAMB patrol aircraft and subsequently intercepted by marine enforcement officers in international waters near Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.
Due to weather conditions, Natalia and its crew, along with a second boat also intercepted by CAMB officers, were escorted to Boqueron, Puerto Rico, for a customs inspection.
The inspection of the Natalia revealed approximately $1.7 million dollars hidden in suitcases throughout the vessel. The inspection of the second boat resulted in the boat and its crew being released.
ICE and CCSF special agents took Quinones-Rosario and Bosques-Caro into custody and seized the approximately $1.7 million.
"ICE will continue using all its resources to investigate the failure to report the transportation of monies," said Roberto Escobar-Vargas, acting special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "These seizures demonstrate what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies work together with vigilance and a commitment to enforce our nation's customs laws.
"This is the second multimillion dollar seizure, in less than one month, that Caribbean Corridor Strike Force has successfully interdicted", said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. "We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who, in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life try, to smuggle or transport illegal contraband into or outside of our area of jurisdiction."
José Figueroa Sancha, PRPD Superintendent affirmed that, "We will not tolerate any type of corruption in the Puerto Rico Police Department; no one is above the law." Figueroa Sancha further asserted that: "There is no room in the PRPD for individuals who are involved in the acts described above and who dishonor our uniform and call themselves police officers."
Quinones-Rosario and Bosques-Caro had their initial hearing before Magistrate Judge Justo Arenas today.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Sean Torriente and Carlos Cardona.
The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of ICE, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Coast Guard.