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Puerto Rican Officials Caught in That Sexist Group Chat Have to Turn Over Their Phones

A judge in Puerto Rico has issued search warrants for the phones on Monday.

by Victoria Leandra
Jul 23 2019, 5:33pm

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A judge in Puerto Rico has issued search warrants for the phones of government officials who participated in the sexist and homophobic group chat that leaked.

The news, confirmed by El Nuevo Día, came as more than half a million people took to the streets Monday and shut down one of the island’s major highways with continued demands that the governor resign. They want repentance for his role in the chats, known as #TelegramGate, as well as allegations of ongoing corruption on his administration.

“Yesterday, the court authorized search warrants, and today they are being fulfilled. Because it's an ongoing investigation, no additional comments will be issued,” the Department of Justice’s press secretary, Mariana Cobián, said, according to El Nuevo Dia.

The messages were sent over several weeks from December 2018 to January 2019 and contain homophobic and misogynistic remarks. One of the most controversial comments referenced Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan. When one official said, “I am salivating to shoot her,” Rosselló responded, “You’d be doing me a grand favor.”

Another message joked about the growing pile of dead bodies in Puerto Rico’s morgues after Hurricane Maria. "Now that we are on the subject, don't we have some cadavers to feed our crows?” the message read. “Clearly, they need attention.”

The chat included some of Rosselló’s top officials, including Chief Financial Officer Christian Sobrino and Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera Marín, who’s next in line for the governorship. They have since resigned. El Nuevo Dia doesn’t mention which officials are facing warrants, although CBS reported it's all 12 members of the chat, including Rosselló.

Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez, is third in line as the secretary of state’s position remains vacant. She voluntarily recused herself from the chat investigation, now led by chief prosecutor Olga Castellón.

Vázquez made the decision after the members of the chat recalled the judicial process that she faced for an alleged intervention in a criminal investigation related to her daughter, El Nuevo Día reports. The judge found no cause to arrest her for the three charges brought by an independent, special prosecutor.

Cover image: Photo by: Silas Stein/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images