FILE - In this June 6, 2012 file photo, federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration escort a handcuffed drug smuggling suspect, at the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. U.S. federal agents will start targeting high-level drug traffickers in Puerto Rico after gathering intelligence during a three-month blitz on criminal activity in the U.S. territory, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
SAN JUAN, Puer­to Rico — Fed­er­al agents will start tar­get­ing high-lev­el drug traf­fick­ers in Puer­to Rico with intel­li­gence gath­ered dur­ing a three-month blitz on crim­i­nal activ­i­ty in the U.S. ter­ri­to­ry, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty said Thurs­day.  The cam­paign is part of a fed­er­al oper­a­tion that began in July 2012 with help from local author­i­ties that focus­es on the smug­gling of drugs, weapons, mon­ey and migrants.  The agency says agents have seized a total of 53,000 pounds (24,000 kilo­grams) of drugs, con­fis­cat­ed hun­dreds of firearms and arrest­ed more than 320 sus­pect­ed crim­i­nals who will be pros­e­cut­ed at fed­er­al and local levels.“We have not only made the streets of Puer­to Rico much safer, but also improved secu­ri­ty in the main­land Unit­ed States,” said John Sandweg, act­ing direc­tor of U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment.  The three-month blitz, dubbed “Caribbean Resilience,” result­ed in six fed­er­al agents fired upon, he said.  “This was dan­ger­ous work,” Sandweg said.  Some of the firearms seized were home­made, includ­ing one gun that resem­bles a pen, said Angel Melen­dez, Puer­to Rico-based spe­cial agent for Home­land Secu­ri­ty Inves­ti­ga­tions of U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment.  The oper­a­tion tar­get­ed six munic­i­pal­i­ties, includ­ing the cap­i­tal of San Juan and the pop­u­lar tourist town of Fajar­do. How­ev­er, Melen­dez said the oper­a­tion was most suc­cess­ful in Ponce, Puer­to Rico’s sec­ond-largest city.Officials said the drugs seized are most­ly cocaine and some hero­in import­ed from Latin Amer­i­ca that is being sold local­ly as well as shipped to the U.S. and Europe. Weapons are being smug­gled in from the U.S. main­land through checked lug­gage, and Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials have adjust­ed screen­ing pro­ce­dures to catch the firearms, the DHS said.  Agents have increased the num­ber of car­go inspec­tions and strength­ened secu­ri­ty at the main inter­na­tion­al air­port by adding more dogs and offi­cers with U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion. The U.S. Coast Guard bol­stered its resources in areas includ­ing the east­ern por­tion of the U.S. Vir­gin Islands and the Mona Pas­sage, a pop­u­lar smug­gling route that lies between Puer­to Rico and the Domini­can Republic.

Near­ly 30 agents with Home­land Secu­ri­ty Inves­ti­ga­tions were assigned to the island over the past three months, and an addi­tion­al sev­en agents were per­ma­nent­ly deployed, DHS offi­cials said.  The three-month offen­sive focused on street-lev­el enforce­ment that allowed agents to cull intel­li­gence fol­low­ing the arrests of dozens of sus­pects, the DHS said.  The island of 3.7 mil­lion peo­ple is strug­gling with a crime wave that brought a record 1,117 homi­cides in 2011.