HomeNewsBriefUS Busts Puerto Rican Drug Smuggling Ring
BRIEF

US Busts Puerto Rican Drug Smuggling Ring

CARIBBEAN / 19 JUL 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

US authorities arrested over 30 people allegedly belonging to two drug smuggling rings operating out of a Puerto Rico airport, underscoring the country's importance as a transhipment point for US-bound narcotics.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents working with Puerto Rican police arrested 33 people on drug trafficking charges in the US territory on June 6. Many of the detained worked as baggage handlers at Luis Muñoz Marin airport in San Juan, and for American Airlines, reported the Associated Press. Two people were arrested at Miami International Airport and one at Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport.

After the arrests two US federal indictments were unsealed, naming 45 people alleged to be part of two drug trafficking groups based in Puerto Rico.

Together, the groups -- one alleged to have operated from 1999-2009, the other from 2010-2012 -- are accused of shipping 13 tons of cocaine along with smaller quantities of heroin on flights from Puerto Rico to major cities on the US East Coast, including New York, Miami and Boston.

The DEA's head for the Caribbean, Pedro Janer, stated that many of the trafficking operations involved airline workers exploiting their security clearance to smuggle the narcotics into the airport before handing them over to others in airport bathrooms to take on to flights.

InSight Crime Analysis

Janer told press last month that Puerto Rico was becoming an increasingly crucial transit point for cocaine on its way to the US. He said that the authorities' increased focus on Central American trafficking routes was the main reason for this.

The official said that most of the cocaine that arrives in Puerto Rico comes on drug flights from Colombia and Venezuela. Some 70 percent then goes on to the US, the AP reported. According to a US Justice Department report released last year, the flights often drop large cocaine packages off the coast of the Dominican Republic. From there, it is picked up by Dominican gangs before being moved to Puerto Rico on small private boats and yachts.

Another factor in the territory's importance to the drug trade is the large number of Puerto Rican communities in cities on the East Coast, which has enabled smugglers from the island to set up networks in the US, according to Janer.

Cocaine seizures in Puerto Rico rose 30 percent between 2009 and 2010. Nearly 4 tons were seized between January and May this year, an almost identical figure to the same period in 2010.

A rise in violence has accompanied the uptick in drug trafficking. Last year saw 1,136 homicides registered, the highest on record for the territory.

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

PRISONS / 20 SEP 2021

A major operation against one of Puerto Rico's foremost criminal gangs has revealed how this group's control of prisons helped…

CARIBBEAN / 9 MAR 2022

The Dominican Republic has dismantled a transnational cybercrime network believed to have defrauded hundreds of US citizens to the tune…

CARIBBEAN / 22 OCT 2021

Kidnappings have skyrocketed in Haiti, but the crisis has political as well as criminal roots.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…