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ICE dismantles drug trafficking organization in Puerto Rico

Operation Grayskull nets 64 arrests and $15 million in forfeitures

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, working jointly with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, conducted simultaneous enforcement actions this morning in the municipalities of Cayey, Salinas, Guayama, Coamo, Santa Isabel, and Jayuya, Puerto Rico that resulted in the arrest of 64 individuals allegedly involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy.

According to the Aug. 5, 2008 indictment, which charged 71 individuals with violations to Title 21, United States Code (USC), Sections 841(a)(1), 846, 853, 860 and 881 and Title 18, USC, Sections 2 and 924(o), the object of the conspiracy was to purchase wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, Oxycodone (Percocet), and Alprazolam (Xanax) for distribution at several public housing projects in Cayey, Puerto Rico, and at drug distribution points in the municipalities of Salinas, Coamo, Santa Isabel, Guayama, and Jayuya, Puerto Rico, all for a significant financial gain and profit.

The indictment further alleges that some of the cocaine purchased was cooked in order to make cocaine-based crack that was later distributed, along with heroin, cocaine and marijuana, in small bags at the drug selling points. The leaders of the organization divided the proceeds of the drug trafficking sales among themselves and their subordinates.

The 71 individuals charged had different roles in the conspiracy, such as leaders, suppliers, runners, enforcers and facilitators to further the goals of the conspiracy. The charging document also alleges that some of the co-conspirators used residences in order to package and conceal the controlled substances as well as the materials to process the contraband.

"This case is yet another excellent example of how teamwork among federal, state and local agencies can disrupt the flow of illegal drugs into our communities," said Rosa Emilia Rodriguez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. "By pooling our information and resources, federal, state and local law enforcement partners have been able to work aggressively to keep drugs off our streets, and to dismantle the violent criminal networks that profit from narcotics trafficking."

"The importation of illegal narcotics into the United States is a very serious crime and the unscrupulous persons involved will not receive reprieve from law enforcement," said Manuel Oyola Torres, special agent-in-charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "In our efforts to keep drugs off the streets of Puerto Rico, we will continue using all of our resources to identify and dismantle drug trafficking and money laundering organizations that operate within our jurisdiction."

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jose Capo-Iriarte and Myriam Fernández, under the supervision of Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Guillermo Gil-Bonar.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.