The prosecutor assigned to investigate the killing of gay Puerto Rican rapper Kevin Fret in 2019 said this week that she was instructed to stop her probe and was never given an explanation.
Betzaida Quiñones Rodríguez made the allegations in multiple local media outlets in Puerto Rico. She said the investigation was shut down just three months after Fret's death by order of Olga Castellón, who was the chief prosecutor at the Puerto Rico Justice Department at the time.
Fret was shot multiple times while riding his motorcycle on January 2019 in Santurce, a neighborhood in the San Juan metropolitan area. No one has been arrested or indicted in connection to his death.
The 24-year-old rapper had recently broken into the Latin trap music scene with his debut single “Soy Así,” which translates to “I’m this way,” a song that celebrates being unapologetic about one’s life. This was a sentiment Fret subscribed to and he encouraged others to do the same as an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community.
While Quiñones Rodríguez said she received her instructions from Castellón, "I cannot separate from this the secretary of justice at the time, Wanda Vázquez, because the chief prosecutor reports to the secretary of justice," Quiñones Rodríguez told Puerto Rico's largest daily newspaper, El Nuevo Día, in Spanish. "Since this is a case of high public interest, there had to be constant communication between the chief prosecutor and the secretary of justice."
Vázquez was Puerto Rico’s secretary of justice from 2017 to 2019, but later became the governor of Puerto Rico after embattled Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign over his involvement in a chat scandal that triggered masses of outraged Puerto Ricans to take the streets, demanding his ouster. She governed until the end of 2020.
Fret's case gained more prominence when his mother, Hilda Rodríguez, publicly accused reggaeton star Jan Carlos Ozuna, known artistically as Ozuna, and his manager, Vicente Saavedra, of being involved in her son's killing.
Ozuna had accused Fret of extortion. Fret was allegedly asking Ozuna for money in exchange of not publishing damming information about the reggaeton singer.
Rodríguez has maintained that her son did not engage in extortion.
Rodríguez doubled down on her accusations against Ozuna and Saavedra this week in an interview with NotiUno 630 AM following Quiñones Rodríguez’s comments.
"I knew this could come to light," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "The two of them have to pay for what they did."
Antonio Sagardía, Ozuna's lawyer, told NBC News he would not be commenting on the matter related to the prosecutor in Fret's case. He also declined to respond to Rodríguez's comments about Ozuna since it's "not based on any evidence related to the case," Sagardía said in Spanish.
Saavedra did not respond to a request for comment.
Assessing to see if there 'was any illegal action'
Quiñones Rodríguez alleged her investigation into Fret's death was halted during "its most critical stage," adding that following allegations about public figures in connection to the investigation, "it was decided and instructions were given to me to stop the investigation."
Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said Thursday his department will look into the allegations made by Quiñones Rodríguez “to assess whether there was any illegal action.”
"After examining the reports and documents related to the case, I referred this matter to the Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs," Emanuelli Hernández said in a statement in Spanish. "These are serious allegations that must be examined in greater detail."
Emanuelli Hernández added that shutting down an investigation "does not constitute an illegal act" unless it lacks a proper legal justification.
Quiñones Rodríguez's allegations add to the scrutiny Vázquez, the former governor, is facing after she was arrested on bribery charges three months ago. She has plead not guilty and is expected to go to trial.
"They have to investigate this lady and Olga Castellón as well," Rodríguez told NotiUno 630 AM.
Ignacio Fernández De Lahongrais, an attorney for Vázquez, did not respond to a request for comment. Attempts to contact Castellón were unsuccessful.
Quiñones Rodríguez is still the prosecutor in charge of investigating Fret's death as of Friday.