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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Today, Vladimir Natera-Abreu and Joset Rivera-Verdejo were arrested in a joint law enforcement operation by the FBI, the Dominican National Police, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The defendants were fugitives since February 2019, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

Defendant Natera-Abreu was one of the main leaders in the drug trafficking organization known as “Las FARC,” (Las FuerzasArmadas Revolucionarias de Cantera). “Las FARC” operated out of the Barrio Obrero Ward, including, but not limited to El Guano sector, Playita sector, William Street, Eleven Street, Cantera sector, and the Public Housing Projects Villa Kennedy, Las Casas, El Mirador, and Las Margaritas, all located in Santurce, since in or about 2006. The goal of “Las FARC” was to maintain control of all the drug trafficking activities within the Santurce area by the use of force, threats, violence, and intimidation.

Natera-Abreu and Rivera-Verdejo had been previously charged in a seven-count indictment for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics, aiding and abetting in the possession and distribution of heroin, crack, cocaine, and marihuana, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The charged drug conspiracy included 75 defendants.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alberto López-Rocafort and Teresa S. Zapata-Valladares are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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