FBI arrests ‘Chiki Bazooka,’ alleged leader of violent drug-trafficking ring in Puerto Rico

By Mike Melia, AP
Friday, June 11, 2010

FBI arrests alleged boss of Puerto Rico drug ring

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The FBI has arrested the alleged ringleader of a violent drug-trafficking ring suspected of ordering five recent murders, an agent said Friday.

Jose Claudio Montes, also known as “Chiki Bazooka,” was captured Thursday inside a housing project where he allegedly controlled the trade of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, said Luis Fraticelli, special agent in charge of the FBI in Puerto Rico.

Claudio and dozens of associates were arrested as part of a lengthy investigation of drug gangs inside Puerto Rico’s housing projects that has led to more than 1,400 arrests since 2006.

Authorities have arrested 41 of 76 people who were indicted with Claudio by a U.S. grand jury. The rest are believed to be in Puerto Rico with the exception of five, who are in Delaware and Massachusetts, Fraticelli said.

Also Friday, U.S. authorities announced the seizure of 532 pounds (241 kilograms) of cocaine hidden on a pleasure craft named “La Burla” — Spanish for “Mockery” — that was intercepted Thursday off Puerto Rico’s west coast. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested the two Puerto Rican men and one Dominican man aboard.

As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is a favored transshipment point for South American drugs bound for the U.S. mainland. Some of the drugs are consumed locally and authorities blame the Caribbean island’s soaring homicide rate largely on feuds between rival drug rings.

Claudio is responsible for five slayings over a one-month period beginning in April and had targeted seven other people for execution, Fraticelli said. He has not been charged with murder and the island’s police chief said the slayings are under investigation.

During a raid last month on the gang’s property, Claudio threatened to kill anyone who came to arrest him as well as residents of the San Juan housing project, the agent said.

“He said ‘I’m going to kill everybody,’” Fraticelli said. “From this day forward he will not take advantage of anybody.”

will not be displayed