A married couple accused of obstructing the exercise of public authority by leaving the Luis Muñoz Marín international airport without filling out the mandatory declaration on COVID-19 was arrested last night after barricading themselves in a car with their three children, including a minor, in the José urbanization Market in Caguas.
It was indicated that the couple would be transferred to the Barrio Obrero barracks, in San Juan. Meanwhile, the children of the couple were removed from the scene by personnel from the Department of the Family.
The events occurred when personnel from the Police Bureau and the Health Department arrived in Caguas to issue an arrest warrant against Zulma Figueroa, 53 years old, Y Luis Angel Columbus, 44, after failing to appear Tuesday afternoon for a hearing scheduled in the Carolina Court of First Instance.
“We went to fill out the arrest warrant and the individuals chose to stay in the motor vehicle and not get out. Basically, they were hiding so they wouldn’t be found by us, but our team got them. “, said the director of the Office of Health Investigations, Jesus Hernandez, in a telephone interview with The new day.
A negotiator tried for several hours to make the marriage cooperate with authorities and get out of a red Chrysler minivan. Relatives of the couple also came to the scene to help in the mediation process.
At that time, the authorities informed the Department of the Family for understanding that minors were involved. Later, the Secretary of the Family, Carmen Ana González Magaz, clarified that there was a child under 15 years old, as well as his 18 and 20-year-old brothers.
“They were taken to a hospital for evaluation, according to the protocol, and they are in good health. These were located with a family resource“Magaz said in written statements.
On the other hand, when the marriage proceeded to surrender, dozens of people who occupied the area became hostile against the press and prevented the work of the photojournalist from The new day.
A married couple accused of leaving the Luis Muñoz Marín international airport without filling out the mandatory declaration on COVID-19 was locked in a car with minors for over two hours. (Alexis Cedeño)
A negotiator tried to get Zulma Figueroa and Luis Ángel Colón to cooperate with the authorities and get out of a red mini van. (Alexis Cedeño)
The events occurred when personnel from the Police Bureau and the Health Department arrived in Caguas to serve out an arrest warrant against the marriage after not appearing this afternoon for a hearing scheduled in the Carolina Court of First Instance. (Alexis Cedeño)
A judge set them a bond of $ 10,000. (Alexis Cedeño)
Zulma Figueroa’s brother with lawyer Axel Concepción Acosta. (Alexis Cedeño)
What does Justice say?
The case arose from an investigation carried out by the Office of Health Investigation and the prosecutor Iliana Martinez, which included a video published by the accused on social networks.
According to Justice, on January 2, the couple arrived in Puerto Rico with two of their children from a flight from the state of Florida and refused to comply with the established procedure to enter the island safely and prevent the spread of COVID-19. When going to the inspection area, the woman informed National Guard officials and employees hired by Health that she would not provide her data through the Travelers Declaration.
“The officers proceeded to escort her to the table where there was an employee who would assist her in completing the aforementioned statement. But nevertheless, Mrs. Figueroa, haughtily, challenging and with clear contempt for the Executive Order, again refused to provide her personal information, evidence of a negative result of COVID-19 and her identification“Said the prosecutor.
Judge Wilfredo Viera Garcés, of the Court of First Instance of Carolina, issued on Tuesday afternoon an arrest warrant in absentia against the marriage and fixed a $ 10,000 bond each.
The couple faces a less serious charge for violating Article 246 of the Penal Code, which makes it a crime to resist or obstruct the exercise of public authority by preventing public officials or employees from exercising the authority of their duties. Both could be penalized with a fine or up to six months in prison.
“These people refused to give information for us to do the tracing … Unfortunately, this did not have to lead to this situation if they had appeared in court”, said the director of the Office of Health Research.
Executive Order 81 of December 20 indicates that “all passengers” over two years of age who arrive on the island through the airports must present evidence of vaccination.
If not, you may show a negative 48-hour test result or a positive COVID-19 test from three months prior to the flight along with recovery documentation, including a letter from a certified healthcare provider or someone else. government health official certifying that the passenger is recovered and ready to travel.
Hernández reiterated that, if you have any information on violations of current executive orders, write to email@example.com.
“These executive orders are not a suggestion, they are guidelines. We have to comply and safeguard people’s lives. We are here to offer health help. We ask citizens to cooperate that our mission is to safeguard people’s lives, ”the official added.