SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, working jointly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors, seized here today 450 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of approximately $13.5 million and arrested six Dominican nationals who are allegedly members of a drug trafficking organization.
The drug smugglers were surprised off-loading a 45-foot cargo container that had just arrived in a motor vessel from the Dominican Republic.
While conducting a routine inspection, CBP inspectors noticed an anomaly in the container and proceeded to conduct a more thorough and extensive inspection which resulted in the discovery of approximately 450 kilograms of cocaine concealed within a hidden compartment.
The container was taken to a warehouse in Carolina, Puerto Rico where six individuals, fully equipped with drilling equipment, were arrested without incident by ICE.
The six individuals arrested are: Ruben Dario Peña-Báez aka "Papola"; Luciano Trejo-Gutierrez; Miguel Angel Peña-Báez aka "Chapulin"; Miguel Alexis Peña-Báe;, Pedro Smart-García and Ramón Pérez-Nova.
They were charged with federal counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and conspiracy to import narcotics. These charges carry a statutory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
"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 working with our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners and using all of our resources to identify and dismantle drug trafficking and money laundering organizations that operate within our jurisdiction."
Those arrested were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Detention Center where they awaiting the outcome of their case.
Assistant United States Attorneys Elba Gorbea and Carlos R. Cardona will prosecute the case.
The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.