Seven U.S. Postal Service workers in Puerto Rico have been indicted on charges they shipped thousands of parcels of heroin, cocaine and marijuana through the mail, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Wednesday.
The mail carriers, who are among 20 people charged in the case, took advantage of their jobs to ship drugs between Puerto Rico, Texas, California and Arizona, according to a DEA statement.
As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is a favored transit point for drugs from South America because once they arrive in this Caribbean island, they do not have to clear customs to reach the American mainland.
Agents from the DEA and the postal service's Office of Inspector General were executing arrest warrants for the defendants in pre-dawn raids around the San Juan metropolitan area.
The DEA investigation, named Operation Dirty Eagles, involved undercover agents who hired the mail carriers to ship parcels purportedly containing cocaine and heroin, according to the statement. The trafficking ring allegedly smuggled at least 100,000 pounds (45,000 kilograms) of marijuana worth more than $150 million into Puerto Rico over the last three years.
The mail carriers also are accused of facilitating the shipment of guns from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico.