Photo: José David Figueroa-Agosto
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested this morning Jose Figueroa-Agosto (46), the leader of the largest drug trafficking organization in the Caribbean, and 12 other members of his organization.
The defendants were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and money laundering. The indictment also seeks to forfeit the proceeds obtained as a result of such offenses, up to an amount of one $100 million
It is alleged that the co-conspirators would smuggle hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic in private vessels. The narcotics would be distributed in Puerto Rico and the Continental United States, and part of the drug proceeds would also be smuggled from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic in bulk cash quantities.
On July 17, 2010, José Figueroa-Agosto was arrested in Puerto Rico after being a fugitive since Nov. 1999 when he utilized false documents to escape from a Puerto Rico correctional facility. He was subsequently charged with fraudulently obtaining a passport to travel to the Dominican Republic. As charged in the indictment, he continued his criminal enterprise of drug trafficking.
The indictment also includes money laundering allegations. It was part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that the defendants would acquire vessels with illegal proceeds for use in drug and currency smuggling ventures between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. They would also transfer ownership or loan the vessels amongst themselves in furtherance of the drug trafficking activities.
If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life with fines of up to $4 million. Figueroa-Agosto is facing a mandatory life sentence if found guilty of the continuing criminal enterprise charge.