Federal and local authorities in Puerto Rico on Tuesday arrested 18 people who were allegedly part of a powerful drug trafficking organization.

The FBI's spokesman in Puerto Rico, Moises Quiñones, confirmed the arrests of the group, the members of which imported large quantities of cocaine, distributed the drug on the Caribbean island and transported it to the mainland United States.

The people who were arrested could be charged with conspiring to import and possessing with the intention to distribute narcotics and money laundering, authorities said.

Meanwhile, the FBI special agent in charge in Puerto Rico, Carlos Cases, told reporters that some of the arrested people had been active in drug trafficking since the 1990s.

"It was a very active and powerful organization that controlled a large part of the drug that entered Puerto Rico," Cases said.

The arrests were made by agents belonging to the specialized groups dealing with organized crime within the FBI and the Puerto Rican police. EFE