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Former NBA player sentenced to 6 months in prison, 9 months in a drug rehabilitation facility

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and member of the Puerto Rico basketball national team for several years, was sentenced in federal court Thursday to six months in prison, nine months in a drug rehabilitation facility and four years of supervised release following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

U.S. Judge Carmen C. Cerezo sentenced Jose Ortiz-Rijos, aka Piculin Ortiz, for knowingly and intentionally possessing, with the intent to distribute, 218 marihuana plants. Ortiz-Rijos had previously pleaded guilty Nov. 4, 2011.

On June 29, 2011, HSI special agents executed a search warrant which was conducted on the ground floor of Ortiz-Rijos' rented residence located in Cayey, Puerto Rico. Upon entering the ground floor, the special agents immediately found a fully operational marihuana cultivation and grow room.

During the four years of supervised release, Ortiz-Rijos has to provide 600 hours of community service, which will be established and monitored by the United States Probation Office.

The defendant is expected to provide nonprofit speeches at any elementary, secondary or high school in Puerto Rico regarding the dangers of substance abuse; provide speeches on behalf of any nonprofit organization with an anti-drug message; and appear and participate in public service announcements or television and radio campaigns that provide anti-drug messages.

HSI special agents have extensive knowledge of the border environment and techniques employed by smuggling organizations to transport contraband into the United States. This expertise has been gained through years of experience in conducting undercover operations, utilizing confidential informants, special enforcement operations and conducting contraband smuggling investigations.

The methods used by smuggling organizations are always changing and through continued training, the use of emerging technologies and dedication, ICE has maintained its expertise in disrupting and dismantling these criminal organizations.