Puerto Rico Port Workers Indicted for Cocaine Trafficking Scheme

San Juan, Puerto Rico - A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico has issued an indictment against Carlos Alberto Hernández-Laguer, Luis Roberto De León-Sánchez, and Misael Ruiz-Valentín, three longshoremen working at the Port of San Juan. The charges include four counts of conspiracy to import cocaine, importation of cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. 

On November 6, 2023, agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Juan, Seaport-Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST), and partner agencies arrested the individuals for their involvement in facilitating the transportation of narcotics between the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Continental United States. 

Court documents reveal that on or about June 7, 2022, the defendants conspired to possess, import, and distribute cocaine into the United States from the Dominican Republic. The HSI San Juan Seaport-BEST investigation exposed the longshoremen's ties to a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) operating between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Exploiting their positions, the longshoremen circumvented security measures to smuggle large quantities of cocaine concealed in cargo ship containers and compartments within the ships. 

W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, emphasized the significance of disrupting drug trafficking networks and the need for coordinated efforts with domestic and international partners to combat the associated violence. 

Rebecca González-Ramos, Special Agent in Charge of HSI San Juan, stressed the agency's commitment to protecting borders and dismantling criminal schemes facilitating the entry of narcotics into communities. The arrests send a clear message that those violating the law, especially those in critical port positions, will be held accountable. 

If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in jail and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The sentencing will be determined by a federal district court judge considering U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

The successful operation received support from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations San Juan, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Coast Guard Investigative Services, and CBP Air and Marine Operations.

Assistant United States Attorneys Max Pérez-Bouret, María L. Montañez-Concepción, and Camille García-Jiménez are prosecuting the case.


DATA SOURCE: District of Puerto Rico | Three Port of San Juan Employees Arrested for Narcotics Violations | United States Department of Justice