More Crime fighters for Puerto Rico

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12991023_s (1)The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is increasing the number of agents and resources assigned to fight crime in Puerto Rico as part of a federal operation launched early last year.

The agency said Thursday it would send 30 new agents to the U.S. territory to crack down on illegal weapons, drugs and money, as well as migrants living there illegally.

Federal agencies established Operation Caribbean Resilience in January 2012 in the north coastal town of Loíza, long considered a high crime area. Officials say that killings, assaults and robberies there dropped by 50 percent or more.

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The operation was later expanded to the San Juan metropolitan area.

The operation has produced 560 arrests since its launch and led to the seizure of 470 illegal firearms, more than 30,000 rounds of ammunition, some $388,000 in cash and sizable quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who has been pushing hard for increased federal resources to combat drug smuggling and related violence in Puerto Rico, said Operation Caribbean Resilience is focused on dismantling international criminal organizations operating on the island and identifying violent criminals for prosecution by federal authorities.

Officials said the program will be expanded through September but did not provide further details.

Officials have also said DHS is closely collaborating with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the United States Postal Inspection Service to improve and enhance joint efforts to reduce the flow of drugs and guns to Puerto Rico.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Puerto Rico last summer to meet with island government leaders and high-ranking federal and local law enforcement officials. She emerged from the security summit with a pledge to direct additional federal resources to stem drug trafficking and related violence along the nation’s Caribbean border.

The DHS is the umbrella agency for key federal crime-fighting entities including Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).