It’s rare that more than one or two people get indicted for murder. But one strange news story out of Puerto Rico involves nine individuals possibly earning the death penalty for killing a single corrections officer from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons.
According to Fox News, nine different men from Puerto Rico have been convicted for the murder of Lt. Osvaldo Albarati on February 26, 2013. All nine of them were inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, when the incident occurred. Albarati had confiscated cellphones and other contraband from the inmates. This provoked the nine inmates to retaliate.
The United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodriguez, claimed that this was the first murder of a United States federal agent in Puerto Rico. Rodriguez spoke at a press conference on Friday, explaining that the nine defendants had carefully planned to kill the Puerto Rican correctional officer as a direct result of the confiscated items.
“Throughout his law enforcement career, Lieutenant Albarati’s service was both selfless and courageous,” said Rodríguez. “With this action, we continue our work to hold accountable those who carried out this reprehensible and senseless act. And in all that we do, the Department of Justice will continue to honor Lieutenant Albarati’s sacrifice, to safeguard the community he served, and to protect the values and principles he defended all his life.”
According to FBI.gov, the names of the Puerto Rico inmates include the leader of the group, Oscar Martínez-Hernández or “Cali,” Ángel D. Ramos-Cruz or “Api,” Miguel Díaz-Rivera or “Bolo,” Juan Quiñones-Meléndez or “El Manco,” Orlando Mojica-Rodríguez or “Yogui,” Jayson Rodríguez-González or “Gonzo,” Carlos Rosado-Rosado or “Cano,” Alexander Rosario de León or “Coquí,” and Jancarlos Velázquez-Vázquez or “Jan.”
The murder was orchestrated by Martínez-Hernández, Ramos-Cruz, and Díaz-Rivera, who hired other inmates to murder Albarati in the Puerto Rico prison. A cellphone, a vehicle and a firearm (four Glock.40) was provided by Quiñones-Meléndez and Mojica-Rodríguez to three other inmates Rodríguez-González, Rosado-Rosado and Rosario de León, who then carried out the murder. Velázquez-Vázquez was the driver for the crime.
The District of Puerto Rico Attorney reported that the crime could result in the death penalty, but she wouldn’t reveal if she would recommend the punishment herself. Instead, the decision will be left up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The death penalty was technically abolished in Puerto Rico in 1929, but capital punishment can still be enforced since Puerto Rico is a United States commonwealth. If the nine defendants are charged with the death penalty, all of the executions would have to be carried out off the island of Puerto Rico.
Do you think the nine defendants should be given the death penalty despite Puerto Rico’s laws?
For more news on crime in Puerto Rico, read about this murder, fraud, and conspiracy in a Puerto Rican bank.