Nina Alejandra Droz Franco was arrested by the Puerto Rico Police as she sat on the street to block a line of riot cops during the disturbances that followed the mass march that took place on May 1st, 2017. Later that day, ATF took over the investigation. On May 2, she was transferred to federal custody and charged with damaging or attempting to damage by means of fire a building engaged in activity affecting interstate commerce, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(i). Specifically, she was accused of trying to set fire to the Banco Popular building in the “Golden Mile” area, which on May Day was the target of the rage of hundreds of protesters who smashed its glass windows and wrote on its walls.
Banco Popular and its owners, the Carrión family, have been denounced for their undue influence on local politics as well as their role in the Puerto Rican fiscal crisis. Today, one of the Carrión heirs, Jose Carrión III, is a member of La Junta, the unelected fiscal control board imposed on Puerto Rico by PROMESA.
After her arrest, the U.S. District Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez, tried to portray Droz as a terrorist and even used the name of the role she played as an extra in the movie Runner Runner, “the girl who breathes fire”, to sway the people against her. Later, Judge Delgado issued a gag order saying that Droz’s attorney had tried to politicize the decision to process his client, a conduct which threatened to interfere with the possibility of a fair trial. Droz was denied bail mostly because of the prosecutor’s argument that she is a repeat offender (due to a decade old criminal case in another jurisdiction), that she recently used violence in an incident with a man (who was harassing her) and that her parents cannot control her. As proof, the prosecution used a video found on her phone of her mother scolding her as well as a telephone conversation between Droz and her mother after she was in jail.
During her bail hearings, Droz’s attorney denounced that she was not being provided with the medication she was prescribed for her chronic pain and anxiety, or with the appropriate bedding for herniated discs. Judge Delgado dismissed these claims saying that Droz was evaluated when she was jailed and that the determination to eliminate some medication was probably due to the fact that she was being over medicated.
Although Droz initially pled not guilty, on July 12 she changed her
plea after reaching an agreement with the prosecution which proposed a sentence
of three years and one month in jail, while the defense suggested two years. Nina will be sentenced on Thursday, March 8th, 2018. She is facing 2-3 years in prison.