FBI Investigating complaints of officials misappropriating emergency supplies in Puerto Rico
The San Juan office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that it is looking into “mishandling and misappropriation of emergency supplies” in Puerto Rico.
“The FBI has received numerous complaints of mishandling and misappropriation of emergency supplies provided by the federal government for the people of Puerto Rico, by local government officials,” the FBI in San Juan posted to its website. “We are working to quickly determine any basis for criminal charges against any public official who would abuse their office and the people of Puerto Rico in this manner.”
Fox News interviewed FBI Special Agent Carlos Osorio on the investigations:
“The complaints we’re hearing is that mayors of local municipalities, or people associated with their offices, are giving their political supporters special treatment, goods they’re not giving to other people who need them,” FBI Special Agent Carlos Osorio told Fox News.
Osorio, an agent with the FBI in San Juan, said the bureau was investigating the allegations.
“The U.S. attorney has made it clear if anyone is caught mishandling FEMA supplies, they will be prosecuted and could end up facing anywhere from five to 20 years in prison,” Osorio said.
Some of the claims have come by phone and others have poured in over social media, but the allegations stretch across the island.
Osorio told of one allegation where a party official is accused of pulling his own car around the back of a government building and driving off after loading it full of FEMA supplies.
Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, a U.S. federal prosecutor on the island, said Monday she was investigating government officials regarding the misappropriation of supplies but declined to name the officials or municipalities being scrutinized.
According to an El Vocero report, the municipalities of Patillas, San Juan, Arecibo, Aguadilla and Vieques are all under investigation by agents of the FBI.
“We have FBI agents who this morning moved to one of the villages on the Island where they informed us that apparently the merchandise was being stored, what had been delivered by FEMA, and is being kept for the political benefit of a person or some people for them to ingratiate themselves politically, “Rodríguez said (translated from Spanish).
“That is also negligence in the performance of duty, which is [a] state [crime],” Rodríguez warned. “At the federal level, we are talking about property that is federal that has been stolen.”
CDN followed up with the San Juan FBI office Friday and learned that they have not launched an investigation into any single person or entity, but as complaints from the people of Puerto Rico are received, agents open preliminary inquiries to see if there is enough evidence to open a full investigation. Osario also said that President Trump had not ordered the investigations and that they were driven solely by citizen complaints.
The FBI continues to help with the recovery effort. Osorio said that their office has escorted fuel trucks and supply shipments to get aid where it is most needed.