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San Juan BEST seize guns and drugs, arrest 8

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The San Juan-based, multi-agency Border Enforcement Security Task Force arrested eight individuals and seized illegal guns and drugs during a five-day operation in the municipality of Loiza, Puerto Rico.

From Feb. 13 through Feb. 17, San Juan BEST, in conjunction with federal, state and local partners, conducted "Operation Night Creepers," a simultaneous air, sea and land operation in an effort to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations operating in the Loiza, Puerto Rico area.

The operation included road blocks by the Puerto Rico Police Department and air and sea vectoring by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard in an effort to intercept any smuggling vessels, and subsequently seize contraband and apprehend violators. This resulted in the arrests of seven individuals for possession of illegal weapons and narcotics such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine; and the interception of a vessel and the arrest of one of its occupants who was later identified as a federal fugitive with an outstanding arrest warrant for weapons violations and who is an alleged member of a violent drug trafficking organization.

"These enforcement actions show how the San Juan BEST is proving to be a worst case scenario for criminal organizations attempting to smuggle dangerous contraband through Puerto Rico," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "The success of the BESTs in combating drug-related crime and violence is the reason the Department of Homeland Security created the task force in Puerto Rico."

The San Juan BEST incorporates law enforcement and intelligence resources from HSI, CBP, PRPD, Coast Guard, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, San Juan Police Department, Colombian National Police, Puerto Rico Ports Authority and Puerto Rico's Department of Treasury. These resources focus their investigative, interdiction and intelligence assets towards the identification, prioritization and investigation of emerging or existing threats related to our borders.

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.