U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow said the scheme began in 2005 and affected local and foreign commerce, including shipping between Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
He said suspects at three docks in the capital of San Juan are accused of illegally extorting small shipping companies and threatened to stop loading and unloading goods if a monthly fee wasn’t paid. The fee demanded varied by weight and sometimes ranged from $10,000 to $20,000 a month, Muldrow said.
The suspects face charges including conspiracy to violate the RICO Act, commit extortion and money laundering.
The indictment also includes Sanchez-Ortiz, Pedro Pastrana Gonzalez, Iara Clemente Rivera, Jorge Batista Maldonado, Victor Torres Barrosom, Jose Fernandez Cruz and Carlos Hernandez Laguer.
According to Muldrow, suspects conspired to extort shipping companies, by calling them to pay merchandise loading-unloading fees at piers 9, 10 and 11 in San Juan, under threat of protests and strikes by the ILA union.