updated 12/12/2007 11:43:46 AM ET 2007-12-12T16:43:46

Federal agents and local police launched raids in several Puerto Rican cities Wednesday with arrest warrants for 121 drug suspects, the FBI director for the U.S. Caribbean territory said.

The warrants issued Tuesday by a U.S. grand jury represent the largest group ever indicted at once by federal authorities on the island, according to FBI special agent Luis Fraticelli.

The raids began before dawn in the metropolitan San Juan area and the island’s second-largest city, Ponce, on the southern coast. At least 61 people were arrested by midday.

Suspected of drug trafficking
The suspects were all wanted on charges related to drug trafficking, and the FBI said those arrested included the leaders of organizations that controlled narcotics sales in subdivisions south of San Juan.

Fraticelli said the suspects have also been linked to about 20 killings, including the highly publicized shooting of a lawyer and his two teenage daughters who were caught in the crossfire on a highway two years ago.

Authorities have blamed the majority of the island’s homicides on drug traffickers seeking control of the marijuana, heroin and cocaine trade.

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