Puerto Rico judge issues search warrants for embattled governor and aides as protests continue

Puerto Rican official Tuesday confirmed that search warrants have been issued in the investigation into Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and 11 of his aides.

Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice confirmed to Fox News that search warrants were issued as officials in the U.S. territory look into whether any criminal or ethical crimes were committed in the so called “chatgate” controversy.

“I can confirm search warrants have been issued. This is an ongoing investigation and we can’t comment further,” Mariana Cobián, the press director for Justice Department of Puerto Rico, told Fox News’ Bryan Llenas. Cobián would not say how many warrants were issued or what they were for.

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Territorial Justice Department spokesman Kelvin Carrasco told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the warrants were approved overnight and were issued for those who have not yet turned over their phones. He did not name the officials and declined further comment because the investigation is ongoing.

The warrants come two days after Rosselló, a Democrat, announced that he would not seek re-election amid the corruption allegations that have led to widespread protests across the island. The governor, however, has so far refused to give in to demands by protesters for him to step down from his post.

Rosselló dug his heels in late Monday after what seemed to have been the biggest protest the island has seen in nearly two decades. He told Fox News that he has already apologized and made amends following the leak of an offensive, obscenity-laden online chat among him and his advisers that triggered the crisis.

Many Puerto Ricans have been calling for Rosselló’s resignation after  the leaked online chats showed him insulting women and political opponents as well as mocking victims of Hurricane Maria, one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit the island territory.

Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism earlier this month published nearly 900 pages of private messages between Rosselló and several other government officials.

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In one message Rosselló called one New York female politician of Puerto Rican descent a “w---e” and described another as a “daughter of a b---h.” One chat also made vulgar references to Latin pop star Ricky Martin’s homosexuality.

His official residence has been under siege in the aftermath, as hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered outside La Fortaleza, the governor’s official residence.

A wave of protests hit the island this past Friday, with union workers marching toward La Fortaleza from the nearby waterfront. Horseback riders and hundreds of other people also joined the march.

Fox News’ Talia Kaplan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.