U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with other federal, state and local law enforcement agents arrested 53 individuals Thursday for drug and illegal arms trafficking and money laundering. The arrests were part of an investigation dubbed Operation Green Mountain against members of a transnational drug trafficking organization with nexus in Mexico and Colombia operating from Las Dolores Ward in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
The indictments allege that since 2010, the organization purchased and sold wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana and that it used the United States Postal Service (USPS) to purchase and mail these drugs to and from various distributors in several states.
USPS employees were aware of the shipments of controlled substances and would hold the packages for pick-up by co-conspirators or divert them to other members of the conspiracy.
Members of the conspiracy included police officers who provided information regarding investigations of the conspirators, interfered in police investigations for the benefit of the conspirators and provided information to the conspirators on how to avoid police detection. The indictment alleges they used and leveraged their official positions as law enforcement officers in furtherance of the conspiracy. The charging document also alleges that the conspirators sold street quantity amounts of cocaine, crack and marijuana at drug points in Río Grande.
The conspirators facilitated the acquisition of firearms and ammunition, including machine guns, and would use force, violence and threats to intimidate rival drug trafficking organizations. Several of the members of the conspiracy have been charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and money laundering.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Chattah is leading the prosecution of these cases. If convicted, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life in prison.