Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Seventy-Two People Charged With Drug Trafficking

U.S. Attorney's Office

San Juan

Press Release

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Att-
orney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced that on September 23, 2016, 
a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a six count indictm-
ent against seventy-two (72) individuals charged with conspiracy to possess 
with intent to distribute controlled substances, aiding and abetting in the pos-
session /distribution of Heroin, cocaine base, cocaine, marijuana, conspiracy 
to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The U.S. Immi-
gration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Police of Puerto Rico Strike
Force are in charge of the investigation.

During the span of the conspiracy, in order to be able to operate a drug point 
at Vista Hermosa Public Housing Project, “rent” would be paid to the leaders 
of the drug trafficking organization and their family members. As part of the 
manner and means of the conspiracy high level members of the DTO would 
order and authorize, the use of force and violence against members of their 
own DTO suspected of providing information to law enforcement.  

The indictment alleges that the conspirators had many roles in order to further 
the goals of the drug trafficking organization. They served as “leaders”, “drug 
point owners”,“runners”, “sellers”, “drug processors”, among other roles. Also, 
as part of the conspiracy, armed conspirators provided security to the drug po-
int at the Vista Hermosa PHP. Members of the DTO were under the rules dicta-
ted by the leaders regarding the location from where controlled substances co-
uld be sold, how conflict resolution between members of the drug trafficking or-
ganization was to be handled, how conflict resolution between Vista Hermosa 
residents not related to the DTO was to be handled. If said rules were violated, 
the leader or high level members of the DTO would use force, violence, and in-
timidation against the offenders in an effort to maintain order within Vista Herm-

According to the indictment Jaret Navedo-Meléndez, Julio González-Burgos, Jo-
sé Davier Carvente-Guzmán, Kilpatrick Acosta-Cruz, Sergio E. Santa-Otero, Je-
ancristh N. Reyes-Masso, Carlos R. Hernández-Rodríguez, Ángel Román-Ayala,
Jessenia Díaz-Colón, Elba Iris Estrada-Negrón, Rafael O. Álvarez-Cruz, Noel Ma-
nzano-Cintrón, Carlos Luis Hernández-Rodríguez, and an individual known as “Al-
ex Tota”, acted as leaders or drug point owners for the DTO.  The organization al-
so had six (6) defendants that acted as enforcers, two (2) drug processors, nine 
(9) runners, forty (40) sellers, and one (1) facilitator.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Vanessa E. Bonhomme and AUSA Kelly Zenon-Matos 
are in charge of the prosecution of the case.  If convicted the defendants face a
minimum sentence of ten (10) years and up to life in prison. Indictments contain 
only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be inno-
cent until and unless proven guilty.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Puerto Rico News Digest For September 26, 2016


As reported by El Nuevo Dia, three people were murdered Sunday night at around
7:30 PM on Road PR-857, in the Canovanillas sector of Carolina. A 911 call alerted
the police to three people who had been shot. Upon arriving, police found the bodies
of Julio M. López Castro, age 41, and Jonathan J. López Pizarro, age 22. a 23-year-
old man, Jonathan Rodríguez Cabrera, was taken to Centro Médico in Río Piedras
with various gunshot wounds. He died while receiving treatment. These three killi-
ngs were part of seven overall murders registered across the island during this past
weekend. The number of murders for the year in Puerto Rico now stands at 484, 70
more than at this time last year.


From Caribbean Business:

"Despite the lengthy lines thousands of Puerto Ricans did on hotels and restaur-
ants after the island remained partially dark for more than 40 hours, the final bal-
ance of the incident isn’t necessarily positive for Puerto Rico’s tourism industry,
much less for the general economy. While hundreds of hotels saw a significant in-
crease in their occupancy since Wednesday, others have had to cancel reservations
due to the outage or have had to send guests to a different accommodation because
their electric plants didn’t work, exploded, or simply couldn’t tolerate the emergen-
cy usage, revealed economist Jorge Elguera to Caribbean Business. Similar incide-
nts occurred at some restaurants that didn’t have electric generators or hadn’t given
them maintenance..."


From The San Juan Daily Star:

"Puerto Rican Working People’s Party (PPT by its Spanish initials) candidate for
the San Juan municipal assembly Jorge Farinacci Fernós on Thursday proposed
reaching a “consensual agreement” that will allow the harmonization of the inter-
ests of the diff erent sectors at the Placita de Santurce. “We have to recognize that
we are all part of the same community, so we have to try a reach a consensual agr-
eement,” Farinacci Fernós said, referring to the public dispute between the reside-
nts and business owners in the area. Farinacci Fernós noted that certain issues need
to be cleared up regarding the aff ected parties and the interests involved, such as the
fact that residents of the area have a right to be able to rest and to the “tranquility they
deserve after a long day at work;” the businesses and their staff s, which are trying to
make a living, and the people who visit the establishments to enjoy one of the only
open public spaces remaining in Puerto Rico..."


From News Is My Business:

"In Puerto Rico’s embattled economy, everyone is at risk. Nonprofit organizations
are no exception.To survive, organizations are cutting staff, services and administra-
tive costs, maxing out their credit cards and even borrowing from their board mem-
bers. Those are among the findings of a recent informal survey conducted by United
Way of  Puerto Rico, a coalition of 131 charitable organizations. “There was nothing
surprising [in the survey] since we constantly receive financial reports and do moni-
toring. What does worry us is that there is too much dependence on government fun-
ds,” said United Way President Samuel González..."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Updates on The Puerto Rico Blackout

From our Twitter feed:


Puerto Rico News For September 22, 2016



A fire of unknown origin broke out yesterday afternoon at the Central Ag-
uirre power plant in the southern town of Salinas, causing a massive failu-
re which left the entire island of Puerto Rico -- along with Vieques and Cu-
lebra -- without electrical service. The power failure also left over a quarter
of a million households without running water. Police were deployed acr-
oss the island to direct traffic at select interesections, with two officers,one 
in Guaynabo and one in Caguas, being hit by cars. Both received non-life-
threatening injuries.

Hotels all over the San Juan metro area and beyond were packed, as many
island residents opted for staying in air conditioned hotel rooms rather than
suffer the lack of power in their homes. Lines to check in at the Convention
Center Sheraton were reportedly over an hour long. 

Classes were suspended for today at all public schools, the University of
Puerto Rico, and at most private schools and universities. Non-essential
government employees were instructed to show up for work on Thursday
at 12 noon. While power has been reestablished for about 130,000 users a-
cross Puerto Rico as of this writing, over one million households are still
without electricity this morning. Ports, ferries and airports were operating
normally yesterday and this morning. No out of the ordinary flight delays
have occurred or are expected.

Yesterday's failure resulted in the largest blackout in Puerto Rico since 


For updates throughout the day, check out our Twitter feed:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Is Independence Imminent For Puerto Rico?


Rosa Bravo

Originally published January 12, 2016

I am proud of my United States citizenship and I have long supported
the idea of statehood for Puerto Rico. But at this point, even I have to
admit that my home island becoming the 51st state seems like an in-
creasingly remote possibility. I'm not pessimistic about statehood be-
cause of the language difference, or the possibility of losing our "na-
tional" Olympic team, or because of Puerto Rican voters' long runn-
ing indecisiveness regarding the future of their island. I'm pessimis-
tic about statehood because the one entity that could grant such a thing,
the US Congress, will not let it happen. And with every day that passes,
Congress feels less and less willing to admit Puerto Rico as a state.

And who can blame them? Puerto Rico's financial woes have made
headlines regularly over the last several years. Holders of Puerto Rico
bonds are bracing themselves for the worst, will billions of dollars yet
to be lost. During the island's budget and debt debacles, some of Puerto
Rico's seemingly intractable institutional corruption has been brought to
light for the whole world to see. Puerto Ricans continue to leave the is-
land for the mainland in droves. Puerto Rico is still much poorer than the
poorest state in the union. Besides all of this, the US's incentives for hol-
ding on to this Caribbean territory have largely disappeared.

During the 20th century, Puerto Rico's location made it a key to protec-
ting the then US owned Panama Canal. After World War II, its strategic
value appreciated further, as Cuba went communist and the US needed to
pay close attention to the Caribbean and Central America. Puerto Rico was
also a hub for manufacturing, as tax incentives and cheap labor yielded bi-
llions in profits for American corporations. But those incentives are gone.
The Cold War is long over, and whatever geopolitical challenges the US
faces -- or expects to face in the near future -- are not present in the Ame-
ricas, but rather in the Middle East and Asia. American businesses found
labor cheaper than Puerto Rico's long ago, in Mexico, China, India...even
right next door in the Dominican Republic. Plus, Congress took away
many of the tax incentives.

The United States has taken plenty from Puerto Rico over the decades,
including scores of lives lost by Puerto Rican soldiers in American wars.
But now that they find they can't squeeze any more juice from their main
Caribbean possession, they are probably asking themselves what the point
is any longer. Sure, Puerto Ricans still pay plenty of taxes to Uncle Sam,
even if we don't pay Federal Income Tax (although many of us do have to
pay). American businesses still make billions in the island. But the old re-
turn on investment is no longer there. Many a right-wing blowhard in DC
will think "Why do we keep sending billions in federal funds into a black
hole? Why do we even still have this island of latino freeloaders any lon-
ger?". They look at Puerto Rico's super-corrupt elites and increasingly poor
population and wonder whether it might not be time to cut their losses. Ne-
vermind that that same corrupt elite grew initially under US auspices (Puer-
to Rico had no self-rule at all until 1952, and even then it was severely li-
mited) and that the US-favored colonial status is largely responsible for
keeping Puerto Ricans trapped in poverty. Historical memories are short
in Washington.

Will Congress suddenly be afflicted with an attack of conscience, and
grant Puerto Rico statehood (provided a majority of us finally and with-
out reservation ask for it)? Will they consider America's decades-long ill
treatment and neglect of Puerto Rico and do the morally right thing, and
say yes to admitting millions of US citizens into the union as equals? I
wouldn't bet any money on it. While the statehood conversation would be
taken a lot more seriously if at least 75% of Puerto Rican voters said yes
to statehood (nope, 51% doesn't cut it and never will), it would still be a
battle. Congress looks at the Puerto Rico of today and see millions of poor,
Spanish-speaking welfare recipients. With Cuba opening, Puerto Rico is
no longer the business-friendly Caribbean lab of the mid-century; it is a
washed-up has-been, in their eyes. But they are beginning to acknowledge
that the current colonial situation is no longer tenable. So what options are
left? A sovereign, "associated republic", a la Marshall Islands or Palau.
Or, of course, full independence. Either one would be seen in Washing-
ton as cheaper and easier than maintaining the current status, or burdening
itself with a "beggar" 51st state.

Congress may soon have the excuse that it wants to get rid of Puerto Ri-
co. Independence may be coming sooner than any of us expect, whether
we ask for it or not. The colonial master is getting anxious and is feeling
increasingly eager to get rid of what it helped create. If you don't want to
see that happen, it's time to start making some real noise for statehood.
And not in  Puerto Rico, where it won't matter what you say or who hears
you. It is people and politicians in the mainland who need to hear our voi-
ces. And do you have family or friends in the mainland  US? Of course you
do. Tell them to speak up and to always VOTE, and to let  everyone know
that they vote. We also need an organization that can promote statehood
other than the New Progressive Party, which for decades has accomplished
less than nothing in convincing Congress to seriously consider decoloniza-

If we don't take the fight for statehood to another level, get ready to make
some room for that Puerto Rico passport in your wallet. Because we're
going to be on our own.

The opinions expressed in the preceding commentary do no  necessarily reflect those 
of The Puerto Rico Monitor.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Puerto Rico News Digest For September 19, 2016


From The San Juan Daily Star:

"A long impasse that has delayed money to combat Zika for months neared an
end Thursday as congressional aides said Republicans would relent and let Pla-
nned Parenthood affiliated clinics share in new funding to fi ght the virus. The
potential deal would ease the way for Congress to quit work until after the Nov.
8 election. Democrats welcomed the move, which would address their chief
complaint to a GOP plan intended to fight the virus..."


From Yonhap:

" South Korea has invited Puerto Rican soldiers who fought during the Korean
War (1950-53) to visit the country 66 years after hostilities ended, military offi-
cials said Monday. Sixteen Puerto Rican war veterans are scheduled to make a
six-day trip to South Korea from Tuesday to Sunday as part of the 131 veterans
and their families from the United States and Puerto Rico. This marks the first
time that the veterans from the Caribbean island will be visiting the country, the
Ministry of Patriots & Veterans Affairs said. While here, they will visit the truce
village of Panmunjom, the Joint Security Area (JSA), the Seoul National Ceme-
tery and historic palaces, the ministry said in a statement..."


From Caribbean Business:

"n a Facebook video that she appeared to have recorded in her residence, indep-
endent gubernatorial candidate Alexandra Lúgaro urged people to register to vote
before the deadline Monday, Sept. 19. In her Sunday evening video, Lúgaro em-
phasizes the importance of voting with, among other examples, speaking about
the massive electoral campaigns that focus on voting as a priority in some coun-
tries...In her message, which she also recorded in sign language, Lúgaro urged
voters to record a video or post anything, “even art,” that expresses the importa-
nce of voting, adding she would share these and that some 300,000 people would
be seeing them..."


From News Is My Business:

"Mesón Sandwiches, a Puerto Rico-based fast casual restaurant that marries
the flavors of the Caribbean with an American staple, will open this week its
third Central Florida location at the Premium Outlets Vineland in Orlando. Two
other Mesón restaurants are scheduled to open next year in Lee Vista Promenade
and the Gardens on Millennia, also in the Metro Orlando area, for a total of five
locations by the fall of 2017..."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Puerto Rico News Digest For September 14, 2016


From BBC:

"A Puerto Rican beauty queen has lost her bid to reclaim her tiara taken from
her for poor behaviour. A judge ruled that Kristhielee Caride had violated the
terms of her contract as the island's representative for Miss Universe. She had
refused to attend a designated hair salon, and failed to appear on a TV progra-
mme because she said the traffic was too bad. Ms Caride was seeking $3m (£
2.25m) in damages from the organisers. The week-long court case has gripped
Puerto Rico. TV stations interrupted regular programming to show proceedings
in court and her testimony..."


From The San Juan Daily Star:

"San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto proposed to seek a reconsideration
from Judge Aileen Navas Auger on the retention of $17.1 million by the Go-
vernment Development Bank (GDB) from the municipality of San Juan, at the
same time reiterating Monday her determination to resist the federal Puerto Ri-
co Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). “We are
going to ask for a reconsideration and then appeal,” the mayor told Inter News
Service (INS) about the multimillion-dollar retention of funds destined for ser-
vices for the residents of the capital city..."


From Caribbean Business:

"Senate President Eduardo Bhatia said Tuesday that the Puerto Rico Oversight,
Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa) “does not establish anywh-
ere” that government employees hired after May 4 or those who obtained their
permanent status after that date, could be let go, as previously stated by New Pro-
gressive Party (NPP) president and gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Rosselló. A-
ccording to the senatorial leader, the act establishes in Section 204 that the Fiscal
Management and Oversight Board created by Promesa could evaluate actions ta-
ken through legislation “that is contrary to the government’s ordinary course,” but
explained that in the case of permanent status granted to teachers, nurses and other
public employees who provide essential services, such cases fall under “ordinary
course” and hence do not have to be subject to employee dismissals..."


From News Is My Business:

"Oriana Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Sonnedix Group, in partnership with Yaro-
tek, announced Tuesday it has commenced energization of the $160 million Oria-
na Solar Farm, a 45MW AC (58 MW) solar power plant in Isabela. With an inves-
tment in excess of $160 million, the construction of this renewable energy facility
created more than 1,000 direct jobs during construction, mostly residents of Isabe-
la and nearby communities..."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Del Valle arrives in Dallas; Ready to Shine Saturday Night

Press Release

Knockout Publicity

Dallas, TX (September 12, 2016) – IBF #8 super bantamweight Luis “Orlan-
dito” Del Valle and his team arrived in Dallas this afternoon after leaving Pu-
erto Rico earlier today.

Del Valle, who hails from Bayamon, meets unbeaten Diego De La Hoya, 15-
0 (9 KO's), Saturday evening over ten rounds in what is expected to be a cla-
ssic Puerto Rico vs Mexico slugfest. The bout opens an HBO PPV telecast
starting at 9 PM ET headlined by the junior middleweight championship fi-
ght between pound for pound superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and reigning
WBO champion Liam Smith. The card takes place a short distance from Da-
llas in Arlington, TX at AT&T Stadium, best known as the home of the Da-
llas Cowboys.

Del Valle, 22-2 (16 KO's), had grueling training camp to prepare for what
he calls the biggest fight of his career. With his preparation in the books, Del
Valle is supremely confident that the work he put in along with his signific-
ant experience advantage will guide him to victory.

“The work has been put in by myself and my team,” said Del Valle. “I'm fo-
cused and ready to fight. A win can change everything for me. De La Hoya is
undefeated and people are discussing him as a future superstar. His team belie-
ves I'm the guy he'll beat to get to the next level and that's a major mistake. I've
been down this road before and this was the best camp I ever had. Come Satur-
day night, everybody will see that Orlandito Del Valle is a serious player in the
122 pound division!”