Three Men Convicted in Puerto Rico in Final Operation Guard Shack Prosecution
WASHINGTON—Three men, including two former officers with the Police of Puerto Rico, were convicted today by a federal jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for their roles in providing security for drug transactions, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Rosa E Rodriguez-Velez of the District of Puerto Rico, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph S Campbell of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office. Former Police of Puerto Rico Officers Daviel Salinas Acevedo, 29, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and Miguel Santiago Cordero, 30, of Lares, Puerto Rico, were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction. Wendell Rivera Ruperto, 38, of Las Marias, Puerto Rico, was convicted of one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempting to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction. Rivera Ruperto had been convicted previously of 15 other counts arising from his participation in other, related drug transactions.
Salinas Acevedo, Santiago Cordero, and Rivera Ruperto were charged in a superseding indictment returned in the District of Puerto Rico on September 30, 2010, in addition to 87 other law enforcement officers and 43 other individuals as part of the FBI undercover operation known as Operation Guard Shack. To date, 131 defendants have pleaded guilty or been convicted, and 119 defendants have been sentenced. Today’s convictions were the last of the Guard Shack defendants to stand trial. According to the evidence presented in court, Salinas Acevedo, Rivera Ruperto, and Santiago Cordero each provided security for what they believed were illegal cocaine deals that occurred on March 24, April 9, and July 8, 2010, respectively.
In fact, each purported drug transaction was one of dozens of simulated transactions conducted as part of the undercover FBI operation. The three men performed armed security for the multi-kilogram cocaine deals by frisking the buyer (a confidential informant working for the FBI), standing guard as the kilos were counted, and inspecting and escorting the buyer in and out of the transaction. In return for the security they provided, Salinas Acevedo, Santiago Cordero, and Rivera Ruperto each received a cash payment of $2,000. The money was never returned by any of the defendants, and none of the defendants ever reported the transactions.
Sentencing in the case will be scheduled by United States District Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo for later this year. At sentencing, Salinas Acevedo and Santiago Cordero face mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Rivera Ruperto is presently serving a sentence of 126 years and 10 months in prison for his prior convictions and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison for his convictions today. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Anthony J Phillips and Edward J Loya, Jr of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice also provided assistance in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico also participated in the investigation and prosecution of this case.
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