Seven Puerto Rico police officers charged with Rico Act violations
SAN JUAN – Seven Puerto Rico police officers from the Caguas Drug Unit (CDU) have been charged in a superseding indictment for their alleged participation in criminal acts, announced U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico.
On May 21, four police officers assigned to the Caguas unit were charged by a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico for drug trafficking and firearms violations. On Thursday, they, along with three other officers were charged in a superseding indictment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act).
“From in or about July 2014 the defendants together with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, being persons employed by and associated with the CDU, an enterprise engaged in, and the activities of which affected, interstate and foreign commerce, knowingly and unlawfully conducted and participated, directly and indirectly, in the conduct of the enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a release.
The defendants “violated the legitimate purposes of the CDU in order to enrich themselves through illegal conduct, including extortion, robbery, and the distribution of narcotics,” referring to marijuana, according to the release.
The defendants face up to 20 years for the RICO Act violations, 20 years for extortion under official rights, up to five years for drug trafficking violations, and five years up to life in prison for the firearms charges–if found guilty.
“The purpose of the Caguas Drug Unit is to combat drug trafficking, firearms and ammunition trafficking, among other related crimes, and these officers were behaving like the criminals they were supposed to be apprehending. They not only betrayed the citizens they were sworn to protect, they also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners to pursue corruption wherever it lies,” Rodríguez-Vélez said.
“Today’s charges represent a grave breach of the oath taken by these sworn officers. Fortunately, those accused represent only a very small percentage of the brave men and women of the Puerto Rico Police Department, who serve only to protect the citizens of Puerto Rico. In fact, the FBI’s continued efforts to clean up corruption and civil rights violations have been assisted by the full cooperation of the leadership of the Puerto Rico Police Department,” added Douglas Leff, special agent in charge of FBI, San Juan, which is in charge of the investigation.