A foreign company hosted a massive event at a private estate in Morovis, Puerto Rico, where attendees did not follow COVID-19 protocols. The police and health authorities on the island are searching for the revelers.
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO—Local police and health authorities are searching for hundreds of people who attended a party held in Morovis, a central-region municipality of Puerto Rico, on Saturday.
Both the event organizer and attendees violated regulations set by Gov. Wanda Vázquez that are part of local government measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in the island. Since the pandemic began the health authorities’ efforts are aimed at not overloading the island’s vulnerable health system. As of Tuesday, the hospital’s current capacity is a little over 50%.
Recent regulations establish that anyone outside the home—whether in open or closed spaces—should wear a mask. The order also asks people to not organize or participate in events or activities without maintaining a physical distance from others of at least 6 feet.
Those who violate the executive order risk fines between $100 and up to $5,000 or up to six months in jail. The penalty for merchants violating the regulation is $500.
Videos posted on social media show crowds of people singing and jumping euphorically without keeping distance and mostly without masks.
Police agents and personnel from the Health Department are in charge of the investigation. The team is relying on photos to identify the attendees.
Chicago resident Nancy Aguilera was identified as the event’s organizer. According to a preliminary investigation, Aguilera organized the event for Forex, a company with a pyramid scheme dedicated to the sale of Bitcoin by recruiting and investing. The majority of those attending the event were “traders”—young US residents invited to the party. Most of them came from Florida, Texas, and other states with high COVID-19 numbers. Anyone who flies to the island is supposed to quarantine for at least two weeks, if they don’t present a negative result of the COVID-19 test.
On Monday, José Rosario Polanco, the Arecibo area commander, said the police visited several hotels in the area looking for the event organizer and attendees. Initially, they were able to reach Aguilera, who was cooperative with authorities but later said she was having connectivity problems that have kept her out of touch.
“We asked her to appear at the Morovis police precinct but she alleged having connectivity problems. Since then, we have not been able to obtain further communication,” Rosario told Telemundo Telenoticias.
Rosario added that they were able to find one person who participated in the event. That person will be summoned to court and possibly charged.
Edgardo Negrón, the owner of the estate, informed event organizers about current safety measures and made them responsible for enforcing the rules.
“We basically provided them with the COVID protocol process, but obviously we were not there when the event took place—we merely rented them the property and gave them all the information the government agencies require,” Negrón told WAPA-TV Noticentro.
On Monday, authorities said they arrested Michael Miles, one of the event organizers. He was at the airport ready to fly to Dallas, according to El Vocero.
The police will interview Miles and consult with the local prosecutor’s office to possibly file serious charges for not complying with the local safety protocols.