Thursday, December 22, 2011

Former Police Chief in San Juan Denied Bail Amidst 22 Charges of Child Pornography

US Federal Judge Silvia Carreño on Thursday (December 22) denied bail to the former chief of police of San Juan, who stands accused of 22 counts of production of child pornography. Carreño justified her decision due to the flight risk and the danger that, in her judgment, the former police chief poses to society.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent testified at the hearing that federal agents found on Cordero’s computer explicit photos of minors in sexual situations. Cordero, according to the agent, also exchanged messages with sexual content with a minor living near him in the San Juan suburb of Carolina.

Cordero pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges during the hearing and must now sit in jail until February 6, 2012, which is when the judge set the defendant's court appearance, to learn the date his trial will begin.

The Cordero case caused considerable public outcry in Puerto Rico by coinciding, at the beginning of last spring, with domestic violence incidents involving two other high-ranking cops: Richard Nazario and Juan Sergio Rubin.

COMMENT: It is clear that Puerto Rico's police system is seriously broken what with Cordero's problems, a series of police scandals in recent years, Puerto Rico having the highest per capita homicide rate in the US, countless allegations of illegal arrests of citizens and human rights violations.

Although there have been a number of US Department of Justice investigations and studies into widespread corruption and misconduct, promises to clean up the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) have generally fallen upon deaf ears.

Luis Guillermo Fortuño Burset, the first Republican governor of Puerto Rico since 1969, is well-liked and intends to run for reelection in 2012. Unfortunately, though, he has been unable to clean up the PRPD.

For travelers to Puerto Rico, keep in mind the the PRPD is probably one of the worst in the US when it comes to protecting the public. Hence, the police should generally be avoided unless a traveler has been a crime victim and requires a copy of a police report for insurance purposes.

Additionally, street crime is widespread and driven heavily by Puerto Rico's out-of-control drug problem. Hotel safe deposit boxes should be used for valuables, travelers should carry only a photocopy of the photo page and identifying information contained in their passport and the carrying of cash should be kept to a minimum.

Given the level of crime in Puerto Rico, I could make several Caribbean recommendations to our readers as alternatives to a vacation trip there.

For business travelers, who must travel to Puerto Rico, I would be happy to address emails from our readers. Just email me at

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