Puerto Rico Raids Net 40 Members of Drug Operation
Seper, Jerry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
A task force of more than 300 U.S. drug agents swept through several cities in Puerto Rico yesterday to arrest 40 members of a violent cocaine and heroin smuggling operation responsible for more than 30 killings over the past year.
The arrests, part of an investigation known as "Operation Chupa Cabra," culminated a nine-month undercover probe by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that targeted members of the notorious Miguel O'Connor-Colon drug-trafficking organization.
Sixty gang members were named in a sealed federal grand jury indictment handed up June 30 in U.S. District Court in San Juan. Twelve separate search warrants were issued for yesterday's raids. Twenty ring members remained at large late yesterday, but additional arrests were expected.
"Today's arrests illustrate effective cooperation between law enforcement," said Attorney General Janet Reno is a statement. "The collaborative effort demonstrated during this operation sends a strong message to those who choose to engage in trafficking that their illegal operations will not be tolerated."
Also involved in the lengthy probe were the FBI, the U.S. Marshal's Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Coast Guard and Puerto Rican police.
The DEA undercover investigation began in October 1999 after agents said Miguel O'Connor-Colon, 30, who is known as "Chupa Cabra" (or "evil goat"), had taken control of a notorious drug-distribution center in Barriada Ferran, Puerto Rico. He took over the operation after Tomas Arroyo-Colon was arrested on drug-trafficking charges.
Michael S. Vigil, head of the DEA office in San Juan, said the O'Connor-Colon gang "caught the eye" of agents because of the tremendous profits it was generating at numerous distribution points on the island and because of the "blatant level of violence" associated with the gang, including the assassination of rival gang members in public executions. …