Puerto Rico Officials Investigated for Corruption During Hurricane Relief

Puerto Rico Officials Investigated for Corruption During Hurricane Relief
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz speaks to the media as she arrives at the temporary government center setup at the Roberto Clemente Stadium in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 30, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joshua Philipp

Corruption in Puerto Rico may have been the cause of U.S. relief supplies not reaching those in need following Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

The administration of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (D), who made headlines for her criticisms of President Donald Trump’s handling of the relief efforts, is now being investigated for alleged corruption.

According to a local news report from El Vocero de Puerto Rico, the FBI is investigating several suppliers for alleged corruption in San Juan.
It says the investigation was launched after former procurement director Yadira Molina filed a lawsuit claiming she faced punishment for reporting illegal activities to the local comptroller. The investigation has since grown to include several contractors.

“On February 21, Molina sued the city council after reporting alleged acts of corruption in the shopping division in the town hall under the administration of Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto,” the report says.

The complaint states that Molina was blocked from her right “to report wrongdoing in her capacity as a private citizen, not as a public employee.” It says she was retaliated against for reporting an allegedly rigged system and was fired for attempting to report corruption, and includes other additional claims.

There were many reports following the hurricane that U.S. supplies were trapped in the ports, with local corruption preventing proper distribution. The claims were largely dismissed by legacy news outlets as conspiracy, and were used to frame Trump’s relief efforts in a negative light. The Trump administration later bypassed local officials, and the U.S. military began delivering the goods directly.
Carlos Osorio, the FBI media representative at the San Juan field office, told The Epoch Times in October 2017 that the FBI received several complaints of alleged corruption in the distribution of relief goods, and that the FBI is required to look into criminal complaints.
Joshua Philipp is senior investigative reporter and host of “Crossroads” at The Epoch Times. As an award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker, his works include "The Real Story of January 6" (2022), "The Final War: The 100 Year Plot to Defeat America" (2022), and "Tracking Down the Origin of Wuhan Coronavirus" (2020).