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Narcotics
11/09/2012

Operation Caribbean Pirates nets 27 arrests for drug trafficking, money laundering

Operation Caribbean Pirates nets 27 arrests for drug trafficking, money laundering
Operation Caribbean Pirates nets 27 arrests for drug trafficking, money laundering
Operation Caribbean Pirates nets 27 arrests for drug trafficking, money laundering

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Twenty-seven alleged members of a Puerto Rican drug trafficking and money laundering organization responsible for the importation of multi-kilograms of cocaine into the United States were arrested Friday in several municipalities of Puerto Rico. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) and San Juan Police Department (SJPD) officers, launched Operation Caribbean Pirates Phase II as part of HSI’s strategy to dismantle drug lord Jose Figueroa-Agosto’s, aka Junior Capsula’s, drug trafficking organization.

"The indictment and arrest of these individuals sends a clear message to those involved in drug trafficking and money laundering that HSI will go after them, bring them to justice and seize the assets produced by their illicit activity," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI Puerto Rico.

Jose Figueroa-Agosto, 47, the leader of the largest drug trafficking organization in the Caribbean, and 12 other members of his organization were arrested by HSI special agents Nov. 21, 2010.

The group was charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and money laundering. The indictment also seeks to forfeit the proceeds obtained as a result of such offenses, up to an amount of $100 million.

On Friday, HSI special agents arrested 27 additional alleged members of Figueroa-Agosto’s drug trafficking organization who, according to the indictment, played the role of transporters and facilitators for the organization. As part of the conspiracy, it is alleged that these individuals smuggled hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic in private vessels. The narcotics were then distributed in Puerto Rico and the continental United States. Part of the drug proceeds would also be smuggled from Puerto Rico back into the Dominican Republic in bulk cash quantities.

Those arrested were:

  • Alex Manuel Rivera-Figueroa
  • Alexis Centeno-Luciano
  • Axel Ramos-Echeandia
  • Bryan Mulero-Rivera
  • Carlos Rodriguez-Millan
  • Carlos Latoni-Morales
  • Carme Gonzalez-Colon
  • Esaul Hernandez
  • Felipe Encarnacion-Paredes
  • Fernando Nieves-Lopez
  • Harold Luciano-Betancourt
  • Ismael Otero-Paris
  • Jeffrey Nunez-Jimenez
  • Jonathan Alfonso-Rodriguez
  • Jose Luis Morales-Varona
  • Luis Rivera-Dones
  • Norma Vazquez-Figueroa
  • Obie Colon-Pena
  • Paulino Mejias-Garcia
  • Rafael Fuentes-Miranda
  • Reinaldo Martes-Perez
  • Ruben Mendez-Matias
  • Yamil Davila-Lopez
  • Yolymar Negraon-Cosme
  • Ysmael King-Almeida
  • Juan Carlos Berrios-Sanchez
  • Eddie Brito-Martinez

Those arrested were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. One remaining suspect, Cesar Caballero-Collazo, remains a fugitive.

If the allegations contained in the indictment result in convictions, all defendants shall forfeit to the United States properties and/or cash for a total of $100 million.

If convicted, the defendants face a sentence of a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, and fines of up to $4 million. Defendant Figueroa-Agosto is facing a mandatory life sentence if found guilty of the continuing criminal enterprise charge.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected weapons and narcotics smuggling and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.