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DEA: Bust rids Puerto Rico of 'most hard-core' traffickers

By the CNN Wire Staff
Drug ring leaders, suppliers, supervisors, runners and sellers were indicted in the massive operation.
Drug ring leaders, suppliers, supervisors, runners and sellers were indicted in the massive operation.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Biggest drug trafficking arrest-operation ever conducted on Puerto Rico, officials say
  • More than 500 U.S. drug agents and Puerto Rican police were involved
  • 158 people are indicted on drug- and gun-related charges
  • If convicted, defendants would face up to life in prison, $4 million in fines

(CNN) -- A sweeping drug bust in Puerto Rico involving more than 500 U.S. drug agents and Puerto Rican police early Friday is being described by officials as the biggest drug trafficking arrest/operation ever conducted on the Caribbean island.

"This ... massive operation rid the west coast of Puerto Rico of the most hard-core and violent traffickers terrorizing this part of the Island," said Javier F. Pena, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Caribbean Division, in a joint statement released by that agency and the Department of Justice.

In the statement, authorities announced that a federal grand jury indicted 158 people -- including drug ring leaders, suppliers, supervisors, runners and sellers -- as a result of the joint investigation. The defendants are charged in three different indictments with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, crack, cocaine and marijuana, as well as conspiracy to possess firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, the statement said.

If convicted, the defendants would face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $4 million.

Many of the arrests were made at a public housing complex near schools and sport facilities where officials expect some 300,000 visitors and 600 athletes from about 33 countries for the Central American and Caribbean Games, according to the statement. The games start July 17 in Mayaguez.

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