Officers Charged with Racketeering, Robbery, Extortion, Firearm, Narcotics, Civil Rights and Theft Charges
Ten Puerto Rico police officers have been indicted for their alleged participation in a criminal organization, run out of the police department, that used their affiliation with law enforcement to make money through robbery, extortion, manipulating court records and selling illegal narcotics, announced U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico.
“The criminal action today dismantles a network of officers who, we allege, used their badges and their guns not to uphold the law, but to break it,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “The indictment portrays a classic criminal shakedown; but the people wielding the guns and stealing the drugs here weren’t mob goodfellas or mafia soldiers – these were police officers violating their oaths to enforce the law, making a mockery of the police’s sacred responsibility to protect the public.”
“Corruption is at the root of all evil,” said Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Division. “These police officers violated the trust of the people of Puerto Rico and not only dishonored the police department, but also their fellow, honest, and hardworking officers. The FBI, along with the United States Attorney's Office, will continue to attack corruption at all levels.”
The indictment, returned on Sept. 24, 2015, by a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico, includes 11 charges against the following police officers: Shylene López-García aka “Plinia;” Ángel Hernández-Nieves, aka “Doble;” Xavier Jiménez-Martínez, aka “Negro;” Alvin Montes-Cintrón, aka “Vinillo;” Ramón Muñiz-Robledo, aka “Marmota;” Guillermo Santos-Castro, aka “Caco Biftec;” Luis Flores-Ortiz, aka “Piquito;” José Neris-Serrano; Manuel Grego-López; and David Centeno-Faría, aka “David Bisbal”.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Other charges against certain defendants include extortion under color of official right, narcotics trafficking, civil rights violations and false statements to federal agents.
According to the indictment, the officers charged with RICO conspiracy were members of a criminal organization who sought to enrich themselves through a pattern of illegal conduct. The officers worked together to conduct traffic stops and enter homes or buildings used by persons suspected of being engaged in criminal activity to steal money, property and narcotics. The officers planted evidence to make false arrests, extorted narcotics and firearms from individuals in exchange for their release. The members of the enterprise gave false testimony, manipulated court records and failed to appear in court when required so that cases would be dismissed. The officers also sold and distributed wholesale quantities of narcotics.
For example, in January 2012, defendants Hernández-Nieves, Muñiz-Robledo and Grego-López, in their capacity as police officers, released a federal fugitive from custody in exchange for firearms.
In another example, the indictment alleges that in February 2013, defendants López-García and Montes-Cintrón, in their capacity as police officers, stole at least 500 grams of cocaine during the course of a police intervention, which Jiménez-Martínez sold afterward in furtherance of the goal of the enterprise.
The indictment charges that the defendants frequently shared the proceeds they illegally obtained and that they used their power, authority and official positions as police officers to promote and protect their illegal activity. Among other things, the indictment charges that they used the Police of Puerto of Rico’s (POPR) firearms, badges, patrol cars, tools, uniforms and other equipment to commit the crimes and concealed their illegal activity with fraudulently obtained court documents and falsified POPR paperwork to make it appear that they were engaged in legitimate police work.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mariana Bauzá-Almonte and Teresa Zapata-Valladares of the District of Puerto Rico.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.