SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned six indictments charging nine defendants during the past week. The indictments include charges of drug trafficking, sexual exploitation of minors, firearms offenses, obstruction of justice, and carjacking, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
The following defendants were indicted:
- Willmer Dimitri Escalona-Reid, Darwin Nemecio Britton-Humphries, and Richard Bernard were charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine aboard a vessel subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The three were on board a vessel identified and stopped in international waters between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico by a joint U.S. Coast Guard/Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine team on June 9, 2020. In the early stage of the pursuit, officers reported seeing packages on the vessel’s deck; Coast Guard personnel subsequently recovered approximately 150 kilograms of a substance that field tested positive for cocaine from the waters nearby. Defendants could face up to life in prison. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is in charge of the investigation of the case. Special Assistant United States Attorney Seth Tremble is in charge of the prosecution of the case.
This case is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF). The CCSF is a multi-agency OCDETF strike force comprised of federal and state law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Coast Guard, U.S. Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service, and the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety.
- Isaac Lasalle Hernández was indicted and arrested for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor, attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. The defendant attempted to engage in sexual activity with someone he believed to be a 13 year-old minor. If found guilty, Lasalle Hernández is facing a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison. The FBI was in charge of the investigation of the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Y. Hernández-Vega is in charge of the prosecution of the case.
- Jeremi Martínez-León, a convicted felon serving a federal term of supervised release, was indicted on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was driving an All Terrain Vehicle in Cayey while carrying a loaded firearm. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years and the revocation of his supervised release term. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was in charge of the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanette Collazo is in charge of the prosecution of the case.
- Cristian Ortiz-De La Rosa and Modesto Espinal-Luis were charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. Ortiz-De La Rosa and Espinal-Luis were driving a vehicle that was towing a boat. When officers stopped the vehicle for a traffic infraction they asked for permission to search the boat. During the search of the boat law enforcement discovered approximately 110 kilograms of cocaine. Both defendants are currently detained pending trial. The DEA was in charge of the investigation of the case. The defendants are facing a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hutchins is in charge of the prosecution of the case.
- Wilfred Lozada-Chévere was indicted on charges of carjacking and use of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. On December 26, 2019 the defendant committed a carjacking at La Placita in Santurce using a firearm. If found guilty Lozada-Chévere is facing a minimum of seven years and up to life imprisonment for the carjacking charge; and 15 years of imprisonment for the firearms violation. The FBI was in charge of the investigation of the case. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Obdulio Meléndez is in charge of the prosecution of the case.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains steadfastly committed to prosecuting those who violate federal law and affect our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “We look forward to continuing our work with state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure that we comply with our public safety mission, notwithstanding the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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