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September 30, 2019San Juan, PR, United StatesContraband

Operation 'G-Zone' nets 28 arrests for drug trafficking, illegal possession of firearms

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) arrested 28 individuals Thursday for drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms.  The investigation, dubbed “Operation G-Zone,” centered on drug trafficking activity in the José N. Gándara and Hogares de Portugués public housing projects in the municipality of Ponce.

The indictment alleges that since 2013, the drug trafficking organization distributed heroin, crack, cocaine, and marijuana, within the two public housing projects and other areas in the southern part of Puerto Rico, all for financial gain and profit.

Those arrested acted as leaders, drug point owners, enforcers, runners, and sellers. The indictment also charged 16 defendants with possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

“The results of this operation show the commitment of HSI, and that of our partners in PRPD and the DEA, to rid our communities of individuals involved in criminal activity,” said Ivan J. Arvelo, special agent in charge for HSI San Juan. “Because of the hard work and efforts of HSI and DEA special agents and PRPD officers, we have 28 fewer alleged criminals 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.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney María L. Montañez-Concepción is overseeing the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison.

This case is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.