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Seven Individuals Charged for Smuggling Kilogram Quantities of Cocaine Through the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a four count indictment charging four men and three women with drug trafficking through the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.

According to the charging document, from January 2020 through the return of the indictment, Luis Avilés-Colom, Michael Pérez-Antonsanti, Tanisha Rosario-Torres, Luis Alberto Cruz-Maldonado, Iván Andino-Núñez, Shirley Córdova-Rosario, and Ashely Ruiz-Rosado, conspired to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. The defendants were part of a drug trafficking organization comprised of a network of recruiters, coordinators, and transporters who traveled from Puerto Rico to the continental United States via commercial flights with cocaine for wholesale distribution, all for significant financial gain.

“This drug trafficking organization was using the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to deliver large quantities of cocaine from Puerto Rico to several destinations throughout the continental United States. Today, federal agencies curtailed their impact by arresting leaders, organizers and travelers who made their distribution network possible,” said U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. “The US Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in Puerto Rico and the Continental US to gather the intelligence and evidence necessary to bring the leaders and associates of these dangerous organizations to justice. Efforts like today’s multiple arrests prove the effectiveness of our resolve and commitment.”

“The Airport Investigations Tactical Team (AirTAT), a task force under the Caribbean Corridor strike force, is composed of multiple state and federal entities and is charged with protecting our Airport, including protection from its misuse by criminal organizations,” said Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Iván Arvelo. “The indictment and the arrests send a clear message to any organization that tries to exploit our airport: “we will protect the Airport and the citizens and visitors who use this important port. You will be arrested if you abuse our facilities.”

In addition to the drug trafficking charges, defendant Luis Avilés-Colom is charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, specifically $525,790, which involved the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, that is the felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, and otherwise dealing in controlled substances.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration and their respective Airport Investigations and Tactical Teams (AirTAT) were in charge of the investigation. AirTAT identifies, locates, disrupts, dismantles, and prosecutes transnational crime organizations using the airports in Puerto Rico to smuggle narcotics, weapons, human cargo, counterfeit documents, illegal proceeds, and other contraband.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jawayria Z. Auchter from the Transnational Organized Crime Section is in charge of the prosecution of the case.

This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.