SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Three Police of Puerto Rico (POPR) officers and two civilians have been charged with robbery, firearms violations, drug conspiracy and civil rights violations for their involvement in a July 2012 robbery in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and an additional POPR officer was charged with lying to federal agents.
Jorge Fernandez-Aviles, 48, Fernando Reyes-Rojas, 42, and David Figueroa-Rodríguez, 32, were charged in an indictment returned on Wednesday in the District of Puerto Rico with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit civil rights violations; Fernandez and Reyes were also charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute controlled substances and one count of firearms possession. Alexander Mir-Hernandez, 39, was charged with one count of false statements for lying to federal agents about his role and the roles of others in the July 2012 robbery.
Pedro Lopez-Torres, 35, and Luis Ramos-Figueroa, 38, were each charged by information on June 25, 2014, for their roles in the July 2012 robbery and other crimes. Lopez and Ramos pleaded guilty before US District Judge José A. Fusté of the District of Puerto Rico on the same day. The charges against them were unsealed on Wednesday.
At the time of the crimes charged, Jorge Fernandez-Aviles was a sergeant with POPR, Pedro Lopez-Torres, Luis Ramos-Figueroa and Alexander Mir-Hernandez were POPR officers, and Fernando Reyes-Rojas and David Figueroa-Rodríguez were civilians.
According to court documents, Reyes asked POPR Sergeant Fernandez and Officers Lopez and Ramos to participate in a robbery of a civilian. The officers agreed amongst themselves to participate. They further agreed that Officer Ramos would invite his cousin, Figueroa, to join them, and Officer Lopez would contact Officer Mir to borrow a marked patrol car to facilitate the planned robbery.
On July 14, 2012, Sergeant Fernandez, Officer Lopez, Officer Ramos and Figueroa went to the airport where they picked up a marked patrol car from Officer Mir. They drove the patrol car to meet Reyes and then went together to the location of the robbery. Sergeant Fernandez, Officer Lopez and Officer Ramos were dressed in dark colored, tactical police gear and armed with their POPR issued handguns. Figueroa and Reyes were also dressed in dark colored clothing, and Reyes appeared to have a handgun as well.
Upon entering the house through the garage, one or more of the officers identified themselves as police and falsely claimed they were executing a search warrant. They ordered several individuals in the garage to stand facing the wall and searched them for weapons. While Figueroa watched the occupants, Sergeant Fernandez, Officer Lopez, Officer Ramos and Reyes searched the property. They ultimately went to a shed in the backyard, where Reyes found cocaine and exclaimed, “Bingo!” At that point, they all departed in their respective vehicles. A few days later, Reyes met with Lopez and gave him money, which Reyes explained was a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the cocaine he took on the day of the robbery. Officer Lopez split the money with Sergeant Fernandez and Officer Ramos.
According to the indictment, Officer Mir was interviewed by Special Agents of the FBI and lied. Officer Mir falsely claimed that he did not recognize a photograph of Officer Lopez; that he had not met with Officer Lopez in more than six months; and that he did not provide the patrol car that was used to commit the July 2012 robbery.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.