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Monday, November 28, 2022

Three out of four accused of smuggling cocaine delivered to a warehouse in Las Cucharas prison plead not guilty

Three out of four accused of smuggling cocaine delivered to a warehouse in Las Cucharas prison plead not guilty

A federal grand jury indicted four people on July 9 for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine found in a cargo car that arrived at the San Juan dock and that portion of the box was delivered to a warehouse on Tuesday . Sergeant Pedro Joel Rodriguez Matos Correctional Complex, known as las cucharas prisonIn Ponce.

Francisco Rivera Rivera, Santiago Ramirez, Teddy Vargas López and Jonathan Castro Rivera They face the above charge and possession of intent to distribute cocaine. Rivera Rivera, Ramírez and Vargas López this afternoon, Thursday, gave their right to read the indictment and three pleas of not guilty before federal magistrate Marcos López González. The trial of the charge against Castro Rivera will begin tomorrow, Friday, at 9:30 a.m.

As per the complaint lodged by HSI Special Agent Francis Gregory (HSI is the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS) and that led to the indictment, the defendants coordinated and participated in the smuggling process of a shipment of cocaine that was hidden inside a car that contained cleaning products ; Specifically, boxes of bleach powder.

Federal Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico confirmed to new day what The wagon MV Lictos, delivered on 9 July at Dock 15 of the Port of San Juan as part of the cargo on board, was, in fact, a legitimate shipment from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic., Apparently, the defendants used legitimate shipments to hide the drug.

The prosecutor’s office referred questions as to whether Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) has the contract for the supply of cleaning products in the jails of the country to the said state agency. El Nuevo Día requested a response from the Secretary of the DCR, Ana Escobar Pabon, and is awaiting a response.

The federal prosecutor’s office indicated via written statements that part of the said shipment of cocaine (about 50 kg) was found on Tuesday in a warehouse in the minimum security section of Las Cucharas prison. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office said that, at this time, the evidence does not point to the involvement of DCR officers in the commission of this crime.

The head of the federal prosecutor’s office said, “Instead, it appears that the cocaine box was not removed from the freight train as planned, and accidentally arrived at the Ponce prison warehouse with other cleaning products.” was given.” William Stephen Muldrow, in writing. Boxes delivered to the prison, and boxes found in the San Juan Dock Wagon, were identified as containing powdered chlorine.

smuggling scheme details

The complaint, filed on July 11 by Special Agent Gregory, states that on July 9, officers Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (cbp, in English) inspected cargo ship MV Lyktos And three cars were once marked for additional inspection at the docks.

It was during the said secondary inspection that a canine unit pointed to a box inside the car MXRU6205231 that possibly contained drugs and was found to be mixed with other legitimately shipped products.

Agents, using an X-ray machine, inspected the above container and found seven boxes that showed “irregularity” and weighed more than the surrounding boxes. Upon opening them, officers found the kind of lead waste used by X-ray technicians to block the rays; When removing the vest, they found bundles with packages in the form of bricks. Field tests were positive for the chemical structure of cocaine,

The federal prosecutor’s office said the estimated value of 228 kilograms of cocaine is $4,104,000. Agent Gregory said the seal on a can of cocaine had been cloned, or forged., These seals guarantee that the contents of the shipment have not been altered and/or modified. However, the special agent pointed out that smugglers often create cloned or counterfeit stamps to introduce items into legitimate shipments, and then replace the original stamps with counterfeit ones.

“Usually, when we find a security seal (this happens because) one or several persons (rag crewattempt to secretly enter the port where containers contraband, often to dispense drugs, are located, without alerting or detecting the authorities,” Gregory said in the complaint.

And that’s exactly what Gregory says happened on July 11. HSI agents replaced the cocaine with a similarly colored substance and sealed the container with the goal of seeing who would show up to take it. At 3:40 pm on the above day, HSI agents detected the presence of a Toyota 4Runner which was parked near the container under surveillance. A man, later identified as Ramirez, approached the fence and looked at the container; After that he got into the car and left from there.

At 9:40 pm, the agents tracked the arrival of a white bus at the gate near the container. A man dressed in black jumped over the fence and went into the container. Then he returned to the gate and made an opening through which three other men entered. Three of the four persons entered the container, while the fourth remained outside to remain alert in case something happened.

At that time, agents intervened with the individuals. Upon entering, he noticed that several boxes inside the container had been opened and others had been removed from the package modified by agents earlier in the day. During the intervention, agents confirmed the identities of four individuals: Rivera Rivera, Castro Rivera, Ramírez and Vergara López.

They get messages and pictures on the cell phone of the accused

Upon questioning, Ramirez reportedly admitted his involvement in the smuggling scheme, in addition to allegedly admitting that he checked the condition of the container at 3:40 p.m. and drove a Toyota 4Runner. He also admitted to being the driver of the white bus that reached Pier 15 at night along with the other three persons.

After getting permission to check several of the detainees’ cell phones, he discovered that they had been used by Ramirez and Rivera Rivera to communicate. In addition, an examination of Vergara López’s cell phone revealed messages via WhatsApp with Rivera Rivera as to why Rivera Rivera did not inform Vergara López about anything. They also found a picture of a brick-shaped, vacuum-sealed package, which corresponds to the presence of one kilogram of cocaine.

He also received messages between Ramirez and Riviera Rivera, discussing the condition of the container that contained the drug shipment.

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