HomeNewsBriefFBI Busts Caribbean’s ‘Most Powerful’ Drug Trafficking Group
BRIEF

FBI Busts Caribbean's 'Most Powerful' Drug Trafficking Group

CARIBBEAN / 2 OCT 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

The FBI has dismantled a major drug trafficking group in Puerto Rico that allegedly moved at least nine tons of cocaine into the United States over a period of five years, highlighting the appeal of the US dependency's location as a drug transshipment point.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested 27 suspected members of the group -- 18 in Puerto Rico and others in US states including Texas, Florida and California. The network is believed to have made over $100 million between 2005 and 2010. Convicted drug trafficker Jose Figueroa Agosto, known as the "Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean," previously led the group, reported the Associated Press.

"They are one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, organizations in Puerto Rico and probably the Caribbean in the last 20 years," said FBI special agent Carlos Cases.

The group allegedly sent at least $8 million in cash back to the Dominican Republic on a private yacht, and used the drug money to buy vehicles and businesses. Edgar Collazo Rivera -- an influential Puerto Rican businessman and the owner of the yacht -- stands charged with money laundering.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to US officials, Puerto Rico is an increasingly common transit point for US-bound drugs, which are often sent to small Caribbean islands before arriving in the territory. Drugs also reach Puerto Rico via go-fast boat from the Dominican Republic, which has also become an important transshipment hub for cocaine trafficked from South America by both sea and air.

The Puerto Rico-Dominican Republic drug connection is well-established. Two major Puerto Rican drug traffickers arrested in 2011 allegedly smuggled cocaine to Puerto Rico via the Dominican Republic. Figueroa, the convicted former leader of the current group, has been accused of operating under the protection of corrupt Dominican Republic officials.

While the case highlights Puerto Rico's importance as a drug transshipment point, it also raises the question of why the island is not even more popular with traffickers, and why drugs first pass through the Dominican Republic, as the island's status as a US territory and its geographical proximity to both South America and to the US mainland make it an ideal jump-off point.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 28 JAN 2020

Unrest gripped much of Latin America and the Caribbean throughout 2019. From record violence in Mexico that recalled the darkest…

CARIBBEAN / 6 DEC 2010

Dominican authorities yesterday seized a plane carrying a shipment of drugs en route to Puerto Rico and arrested the two…

CARIBBEAN / 16 FEB 2011

Cuban police seized 3,023 kilos of narcotics last year, 70 percent of which was marijuana, according to a report by…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.