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Public Statements

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Operation Guard Shack Press Conference

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Good morning. Today I'm pleased to be joined by the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez, and FBI Executive Assistant Director, Shawn Henry, to announce the results of Operation Guard Shack -- the largest police corruption investigation in FBI history.

This morning, federal agents in Puerto Rico began arresting 133 individuals -- including more than 90 law enforcement officers -- on charges that they participated in, or helped to facilitate, illegal drug transactions. The individuals targeted for arrest include 61 Puerto Rico Police Department Officers, 16 Municipal Officers, 12 Corrections Officers, one administrative examiner, one Social Security Administration employee, three Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers, two U.S. Army Officers, seven former law enforcement officers, and 30 civilians.

The defendants have been charged in 26 indictments and face charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense.

These indictments are the result of 125 undercover drug transactions that FBI agents conducted across Puerto Rico, from July 2008 until September 2010. We allege that the defendants charged today provided security during undercover drug deals in exchange for payments ranging from $500 to $4,500 per transaction -- more than half a million dollars in total.

The Justice Department's commitment to rooting out and eradicating corruption in our law enforcement ranks has never been stronger. We are proud of the outstanding work that was performed by the FBI, led by its San Juan Division. During the course of this two-year investigation, the entire San Juan Field Office -- which includes 160 agents -- directly participated or assisted in Operation Guard Shack. Approximately 750 FBI personnel were flown in to Puerto Rico from across the country to assist in this morning's takedown, and around 1,000 FBI personnel in total participated.

I want to thank each of these agents, as well as the other investigators and law enforcement officials, and the many prosecutors, who contributed to Operation Guard Shack's success.

More than three decades ago, I began my career in the Public Integrity Section. I know, firsthand, that advancing public corruption investigations and prosecutions is extremely difficult work. In these cases, the stakes are always high. Public scrutiny is intense. And the utmost professionalism is essential.

With Operation Guard Shack, the Department continues to build on its strong record of achievement in bringing public corruption cases. In fact, today's arrests and indictments are the second major public corruption case brought by the Department this week.

On Monday, we announced the results of a public corruption investigation in Alabama, which resulted in 11 arrests for an alleged vote-buying scheme. The indictment brought in that case was the result of outstanding work done by the Public Integrity Section along with investigators from the FBI.

This Department has one message for anyone willing to abuse the public trust for personal gain: you will be caught; you will be stopped; and you will be punished.

The Department of Justice is committed to holding those who swear to protect and serve their fellow citizens accountable. In our work to root out corruption and safeguard public resources, we will follow the facts where they lead, and we will do so without fear or favor.

Without question, today's arrests will disrupt drug trafficking operations in Puerto Rico and help to strengthen law enforcement operations across and beyond the island.

To the people of Puerto Rico, let me say that: As you continue your fight against drug trafficking, violent crime, and corruption, we will continue to stand with you. The vast majority of police officers in Puerto Rico are honest and hardworking. We will not allow the corrupt actions by a few to undermine the good work of so many or to derail the great progress that you've worked to achieve. The people of Puerto Rico deserve better. Our fight to ensure public safety and public integrity will continue. And, with your help, we will succeed.

I'd now like to turn it over to U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez .


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