Thursday, April 2, 2009

35 arrested in alleged Puerto Rico drug ring

FBI agents and police arrested at least 35 suspects Thursday in an alleged Puerto Rican drug trafficking ring blamed for seven murders, authorities said.

The network operated out of a housing project in the southern coastal city of Guayama and sold heroin, cocaine and marijuana in cities across the U.S. Caribbean territory, according to Luis Fraticelli, the special FBI agent in charge of Puerto Rico.

Fraticelli said authorities have a total of 47 federal arrest warrants in the case, including two for suspects in the United States _ one in Ohio and another in New York. The suspects in Puerto Rico were arrested in seven cities, including the capital, San Juan.

Puerto Rican police said they plan to send personnel to watch over the housing project in Guayama and help residents.

"Once we break up a gang, it creates a vacuum and if that vacuum isn't filled immediately, what happens is another organization wants to take over that complex. We aren't going to let that happen," said island police superintendent Jose Figueroa Sancha.