Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossellóa and Aides Are Ordered to Turn Over Cellphones

Demonstrators rally in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, July 22, 2019, in support of Puerto Ricans and their demand that Gov. Ricardo Rossello resign immediately. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via The Associated Press)

A Puerto Rico judge has issued search warrants for the cellphones of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and 11 other government officials tied to an online chat that has sparked an escalating political crisis in the U.S. territory, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reports. News of the warrants was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Kelvin Carrasco, a spokesman for the island’s Department of Justice, told The Associated Press that the warrants were approved overnight and were issued to 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 were issued following massive, ongoing protests demanding the ouster of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who participated in an offensive, obscenity-laden online chat between him and his advisers whose leak triggered the crisis. The group also insulted women and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane Maria.

Late Monday night, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who remained on the streets of Old San Juan, and there were scattered violent incidents.

The protests have escalated to a point where many wonder how Rosselló will be able to govern the U.S. territory in the coming days and possibly weeks.

Rosselló dug his heels in late Monday after what seems to have been the biggest protest the island has seen in nearly two decades, telling Fox News that he has already apologized and made amends following the leak of the chat.

But many Puerto Ricans vowed to keep protesting until he steps down, no matter how long it takes.

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SOURCE: CBS News, The Associated Press