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Authorities Arrest Seven in Suspected Drug Ring

November 4, 1989

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico (AP) _ U.S. federal agents said Friday they arrested seven suspected members of a drug ring responsible for much of the cocaine and marijuana shipped through Puerto Rico to the United States.

Jaime Echevarria, director of the Puerto Rican office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the DEA is looking for 13 other people believed to be members of the ring.

Echevarria said one of the seven arrested in this west coast town was rancher Luis Hiram Ortiz. He said Ortiz’s property worth $2 million and several hundred heads of cattle were confiscated by federal auhorities.

The DEA director said Ortiz, 32, is suspected of being responsible for collecting drugs from air drops from Colombian planes.

He identified the other suspects arrested in separate raids in Arecibo as John de Jesus Clemente, 24; Pedro Medina Vazquez, 38; Luis Ortiz, 29; Angel Luis Torres, 28; Ernesto Cirilo Otero, 40, and Noel Cintron Rodriguez, 30.

Echevarria said the ring was involved in transshipping U.S.-bound Colombian drugs from planes and ships.

He said the seven arrested and 13 suspects are Puerto Ricans and face charges of conspiracy and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.

He did not give any figure on the amount of drugs the group is accused of handling.

If convicted the suspects could be sentenced to life and a $4 million fine each, Echevarria said.