The FBI is looking into complaints that local government officials in Puerto Rico may have engaged in corruption while distributing U.S. relief goods after Hurricane Maria.
According to Carlos Osorio, the FBI media representative at its San Juan field office, the FBI is required to look into criminal complaints, and they have received several complaints of alleged corruption in the distribution of relief goods.
“I can’t say how many complaints we’ve had that local officials are misappropriating supplies,” Osorio said, adding that “We do follow the protocol. We have in fact gotten some complaints, and we look into the complaints to see whether they have merit.”
“We’re looking into complaints, as we do with any complaints that may have a criminal violation nexus,” he said.
Osorio noted, however, that looking into a complaint shouldn’t confused with a full FBI investigation, and that the typical answer on whether the FBI has an open investigation is “we cannot confirm nor deny.”
According to protocol, he said, the FBI will follow the allegations, if they find anything substantial they’ll consult with the U.S. Attorney on whether they should move forward.
The U.S. government recently took over efforts in Puerto Rico to deliver relief goods including food, water, and medicine directly to those in need, and on Oct. 8, U.S. troops began handing out the goods directly.
This was a break from protocol, where the U.S. would typically bring the goods to regional staging areas, and let the local mayors distribute the goods from there. The Miami Herald reported this was done since some of the local mayors “stumble on the job.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto role in the relief efforts has been questioned.
Cruz made headlines for accusing President Donald Trump of not delivering relief to the island. It was soon shown, however, that not only was the Trump administration delivering large amounts of supplies, but in San Juan these supplies were sitting at the port under Cruz’s control and not being delivered.
There were close to 9,500 cargo containers of medicine, food, and other goods stuck at the port of San Juan on Sept. 28, according to CNBC.
Guaynabo Mayor Angel Perez Otero called out Cruz, and stated she was not, unlike other local mayors, joining meetings between FEMA, U.S. military officials, and Puerto Rican leaders.
“I’ve seen other mayors participating. She’s not,” Perez Otero said, according to The Washington Examiner, adding that “We are receiving a lot of help from FEMA and the Red Cross … there is lots of help coming to us.”
Trump visited Puerto Rico on Oct. 3, and said the roads were cleared, but “we need their truck drivers to start driving trucks.” He noted that locals were helping in the efforts, but “a lot of them lost their homes and when you lose a home it’s not easy to say hey, ‘I’m going to start delivering water.’”
From The Epoch Times