Nearly 90 Police Officers Charged with Corruption

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Eighty-nine law enforcement officers and 44 others in Puerto Rico have been charged in 26 indictments unsealed today and returned by a grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the month of September 2010, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

The defendants face charges ranging from conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and use of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense. The offenses charged cover a period from about July 26, 2008 until Sept. 21, 2010.

The arrests today are the result of Operation Guard Shack, the largest police corruption investigation in the history of the FBI. Close to 750 FBI agents were flown in to Puerto Rico from across the country to assist in the arrests early this morning. Currently 129 individuals are in custody and four subjects remain at-large.

"The Justice Department’s commitment to rooting out and eradicating alleged corruption in our law enforcement ranks has never been stronger," said Attorney General Holder. "This department has one message for anyone willing to abuse the public trust for personal gain: you will be caught, you will be stopped and you will be punished."

The indictments are the result of 125 undercover drug transactions conducted by the FBI in several locations in Puerto Rico, from July 2008 until September 2010. The defendants’ participation in the drug transactions consisted of providing armed protection to a drug dealer during the sale of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine. In exchange for their security services during the undercover drug transactions, the defendants, a majority of whom are law enforcement officers, received payments ranging from $500 to $4,500 per transaction.

The law enforcement officers indicted today are from the following agencies: 60 defendants from the Puerto Rico Police Department; 16 defendants from various municipal police departments; and 12 officers from the Puerto Rico Corrections Department. The remaining defendants include: three Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers; two U.S. Army officers; eight former law enforcement officers ; one administrative examiner in child support matters; one employee from the Social Security Administration; and 30 civilians.

"These indictments demonstrate the commitment of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico to eradicate corruption in our law enforcement ranks. We cannot help but be appalled at the criminal conduct charged today against those who have sworn to serve and protect the citizens of Puerto Rico. The people of Puerto Rico deserve and expect better, and today we send a clear message. We will continue working side by side with the many honest members of Puerto Rico’s law enforcement agencies in our fight against drug trafficking, violent crime and corruption in the island," said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez.

"Public corruption does not just strike at the heart of good government. It also jeopardizes the security of our communities and our nation," said FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry, Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. "It erodes public confidence and undermines the strength of our democracy."