PR’s top fed touts role in crime fight
“Federalization is the only thing that works,” Rodríguez said. “Otherwise, Puerto Rico would become like Juárez, Mexico or worse. Thanks to our joint efforts I don’t think that is happening.”
Police Superintendent Héctor Pesquera, a former FBI agent and the first Puerto Rican to head the federal agency on the island, backed up Rodríguez’s position.
“I don’t think anybody doubts this,” he said.
Their comments came during the press conference to announce the interception of some 2,000 pounds of cocaine and three smugglers off the coast of Maunabo.
The administration of Gov. Luis Fortuño and the island Police Department have been tightening ties with federal law enforcement officials to try to get a grip on escalating violent crime tied to drug trafficking.
The effort includes a push in Washington for more federal security resources and personnel to police the nation’s Caribbean borders, as well as steering more criminal cases ― such as carjacking and large-scale drug trafficking operations ― through the federal court system on the island.
Rodríguez echoed the Fortuño administration’s argument that stepped up federal security along the Mexico-U.S. border has pushed drug traffickers to turn to Caribbean routes to reach their main markets on the mainland.
The U.S. attorney said additional resources for the Caribbean are warranted to counter the trend, but acknowledged that the looming budget crisis on Capitol Hill would hinder efforts to get additional funding.
“With the budget problem I don’t see how that will work,” she said.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who visited the island this summer, and Attorney General Eric Holder have both signaled support for efforts to assign additional federal security resources for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Some agencies may get more resources but until that happens we can’t say,” Rodríguez said.