SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, June 6 (UPI) -- An indictment unsealed Wednesday brings to 45 the number of suspects charged in an anti-drug operation in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The latest indictment charges 20 individuals for allegedly aiding and abetting each other, and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 9,000 kilograms (19,800 pounds) of cocaine aboard American Airlines commercial flights, the department said.
A department statement said convicted felon Wilfredo Rodriguez-Rosado, aka "Mogoyo," is alleged to have recruited and organized a group to package, transport and deliver suitcases loaded with cocaine to the American Airlines cargo area at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
He also recruited and organized a group of American Airlines employees to ensure the suitcases were smuggled aboard American Airlines flights destined for Miami and Orlando, Fla., and Newark, N.J., the indictment alleges.
About 200 police officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents swept the airport just outside San Juan and issued 42 arrest warrants, some of which pertain to suspects in the mainland United States, CNN reported.
A federal grand jury indicted 25 suspects May 31. The department said those defendants are charged in a 16-count indictment with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.
The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization engaged in narcotics distribution and criminal acts principally out of the San Juan airport, the indictment said.
The department statement did not say how many suspects were in custody.