SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) ongoing commitment to interrupt and dismantle criminal organizations and to identify and arrest individuals involved in criminal activity, the agency announced Monday the results of a four-month enforcement operation dubbed "Caribbean Resilience," which led to the arrest of more than 220 criminals and the seizure of more than 142 illegal arms.
Operation Caribbean Resilience is a joint initiative led by HSI that includes the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) and the San Juan Police Department (SJPD) in response to the unprecedented number of violent crimes committed in Puerto Rico last year. The operation, which began in January, has netted hundreds of arrests and seizures of illegals arms as well as narcotics. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently joined the initiative.
"The results of this operation show the commitment of HSI, and that of our partners in PRPD and SJPD, to rid our communities of individuals involved in criminal activity," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Because of the hard work and efforts of HSI special agents and PRPD and SJPD officers, we have 221 fewer criminals and 142 fewer illegal arms in the streets, thus making our neighborhoods safer. This is only the beginning of a series of surges to return our communities to law abiding citizens from unscrupulous criminals who have no respect for human life and dignity."
Operation Caribbean Resilience began in the municipality of Loiza, Puerto Rico, a town considered by law enforcement as an area of high intensity criminal activity where last year, from January to May, a total of 12 homicides were reported by PRPD. This year, during the same period, and under Operation Caribbean Resilience, only six homicides have been reported. This represents a decrease of 50 percent in homicides in the area. This tendency also applied for other types of crimes, such as robbery and assault, which experienced a decrease by 78 and 52 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year.
In the entire region of Carolina, Puerto Rico, which covers the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, Carolina North, South, and West, the tourist zone, and Loiza, the initiative netted more than 73 criminal arrests, which resulted in 34 indictments and six criminal complaints, and the seizure of 48 illegal weapons, 1,747 rounds of ammunition, and more than $30,000 in cash in addition to significant amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine.
In the area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, which encompasses the municipalities of Aguas Buenas, Caguas, Cidra, Gurabo, Juncos and San Lorenzo, Operation Caribbean Resilience netted 87 criminal arrests, of which 53 will be prosecuted at the federal level. Thus far, the initiative has resulted in the seizure of 78 illegal arms, 2,751 rounds of ammunition, $52,000 in cash and a significant amount of narcotics.
So far in the metropolitan area of San Juan, where the initiative was launched in early May, HSI special agents and task force officers have made 20 criminal arrests – two of which were on PRPD's list of the 10 most wanted fugitives – and seized 14 illegal arms and 388 rounds of ammunition.
Although the surges are not limited to public housing projects (PHP), but to all high intensity crime areas, some of the PHPs where a significant number of arrests have taken place are: Luis Llorens Torres, where seven of the 11 leaders of a drug trafficking gang have been identified and arrested; Monte Hatillo, where two of PRPD's most wanted were arrested and its residents tried to repel law enforcement by intimidation and resistance; Las Margaritas, where a PRPD police officer was injured by an individual who was later placed under arrest; Manuel A. Perez, a PHP at war with Ramos Antonini; Villa Palmeras; Nemesio Canales; Cupey Bajo; Bartolome de las Casas; Praxedes Santiago in Cidra, where two individuals allegedly involved in the shooting of the Cidra Municipal Police Station were arrested; Lopez Sicardo; Yukiyu in Loiza; and Jardines del Paraiso.
So far, the initiative has netted 221 arrests, and the seizure of 142 illegal weapons, 4,905 rounds of ammunition, $85,000 in cash, and cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine.