SAN JUAN – Crime linked to drug trafficking in Puerto Rico has increased over the last few years despite the arrests of the island’s three biggest kingpins.
Police have registered 334 murders so far in 2011, 93 more than in the same period last year, which closed with a total of 983 homicides, the second most violent year in the recent history of this U.S. commonwealth in the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico’s police chief, Jose Figueroa Sancha, told Efe on Friday that the arrest of organized crime leaders is directly related to the spate of killings.
“At the time those arrests were made, there were immediate consequences,” said Figueroa Sancha, adding that when drug lord Angel Ayala Vazquez, alias “Angelo Millones,” is sentenced, a surge of violence can be expected to hit the streets.
Ayala Vazquez faces a possible life sentence for being one of Puerto Rico’s leading drug kingpins for 15 years.
Figueroa Sancha acknowledged that the Ayala Vazquez organization “could keep operating” from its principal bastion, the Jose Celso Barbosa public housing project in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon.
The police chief also said that even from behind bars, Ayala Vazquez launched a war for control of drug corners in “his territory.”
“We have carried out operations in all areas where Ayala was in control,” Figueroa Sancha said.
Alexander Capo Carrillo, a.k.a. “Alex Trujillo,” was sentenced in June 2006 to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking in the public housing project of Covadonga de Trujillo Alto, also near San Juan.
At the time he was arrested, Capo Carrillo, than 23, was the police’s most-wanted man in Puerto Rico because of the murders committed to maintain control over drug distribution in several districts of San Juan.
Last July brought the apprehension of Jose Figueroa Agosto, known as “Junior Capsula,” a drug lord and killer who escaped from a Puerto Rican prison in 1999.
His jailbreak occurred after he had served four years of a 209-year sentence imposed when he was found guilty of homicide and other charges.
Figueroa Agosto, dubbed “the Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean,” operated a drug-trafficking ring with connections in Colombia and Venezuela that transported drugs to the Dominican Republic, from where it was shipped in speedboats to Puerto Rico. EFE