San Juan – A gang of drug traffickers that authorities broke up on Thursday paid the Puerto Rico Police Department for protection, federal prosecutor Rosa Emilia Rodríguez said here.
The now-defunct gang paid to have PRPD bodyguards protect its drug shipments and for tip-offs about raids, Rodríguez, the interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, told a press conference.
Rodríguez said that according to the FBI, which had been investigating the case since 2008, the criminal gang took in about $10 million from the sale of illegal drugs between 2004 and 2011.
She said that during the law enforcement operation on Thursday, officers arrested 41 of the 47 accused gang members, including the head of the gang, Luis Agosto López.
The prosecutor said that authorities also made arrests in the Puerto Rican cities of Carolina and Bayamon, as well as in New York and New Jersey.
During the raid, authorities seized quantities of marijuana, cocaine and heroin, among other illegal substances.
Rodríguez gave no details about the possibility of future arrests of PRPD officers who were on the gang's payroll.
The director of the FBI office in Puerto Rico, Carlos Cases, said that the criminal gang is responsible for at least five murders.
The FBI almost a year ago dealt a heavy blow to police corruption in Puerto Rico with the arrests of more than 100 officers from the security forces and officials linked to drug trafficking.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time that the operation was the most important carried out up to that point by the FBI, given the number of arrests, the implicated officers and the logistics involved in the operation.