Agents in Puerto Rico Seize Assets of Suspected Narcotics Traffickers
More than 100 U.S. agents and police on Friday seized millions of dollars worth of homes, businesses and islands owned by a Colombian-led group of drug smugglers and money launderers.
Twenty-three people were arrested in the sweep, which followed a nearly three-year investigation called Operation Al Capone, officials said.
Officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration said the group shipped heroin and at least a ton of cocaine to New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and other U.S. cities.
The DEA’s chief in San Juan, William Mitchell, said the cocaine shipments included 760 pounds in a six-week period. Most of the cocaine was sent via couriers on commercial airlines, which routinely do not pass through customs checks on domestic flights from the U.S. commonwealth to the U.S. Mainland.
Mitchell estimated the value of the properties already seized at roughly $9 million, but Puerto Rican police said up to $20 million in assets may be involved.
Seven of 10 people listed on arrest warrants were captured by Friday as the search continued, Mitchell said. Three were from the Colombian cocaine trafficking center of Cali, the major supplier of the drug to the U.S. East Coast.
Also arrested were 16 illegal Dominican immigrants found on two of the properties, Mitchell said.