Authorities have captured an alleged dealer they say led a violent drug ring in at least two sprawling housing projects in Puerto Rico and trafficked narcotics to the U.S. mainland.
The arrest of Angel Ayala Vazquez, also known as "Angelo Millones," has "dealt a hard blow to drug trafficking in Puerto Rico," Javier F. Pena, special agent in charge of the Caribbean division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said Tuesday.
Vazquez was arrested Friday in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon and charged with drug possession with the intent to distribute.
U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez told reporters Monday that Vazquez allegedly trafficked thousands of kilograms (pounds) of drugs to the U.S. mainland and distributed narcotics to other Puerto Rican trafficking gangs since 1995.
Vazquez's attorney, Juan Ramon Acevedo Cruz, said Tuesday that his client is innocent of charges that could send him to prison for life.
Puerto Rico's police chief, Jose Figueroa Sancha, while not disclosing specifics, said officers are closely monitoring the housing projects where Vazquez operated.
There is at least one drug distribution point in each of the U.S. territory's 240 housing projects, according to Rodriguez.