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

CARIBBEAN / 8 JUL 2021

The G9 is a federation of the strongest gangs in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, founded in 2020 by Jimmy Chérizier,…

BRAZIL / 20 FEB 2021

Drug traffickers engage in a creative game of hide and seek with coast guards and other security forces that board…

CARIBBEAN / 16 FEB 2021

Cuban health officials have warned against taking medication believed to be smuggled in from Haiti after reports of adverse…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…