Agents arrest two Dominican city officials wanted in Florida(Update 2) - The Drugs Control Agency (DNCD) on Friday arrested two La Vega city officials both wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.

DNCD spokesman Ramón Rodríguez said the agents detained Pedro Ramon Sanchez Almonte (Chito), a City councilman for the opposition PRD party and Julio Cesar Valerio in the street Balilo Gomez on an arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court, after an extradition request by the Miami South District Court.

Sanchez and Valerio are accused of conspiracy to posses with intention to distribute cocaine in 1999 in Florida, from where they fled to Dominican Republic.

When detained Sanchez had a Lieutenant’s ID of the La Vega Municipal Police, issued during the tenure of the ex mayor Fauto Ruiz, and a second national ID card (cedula).


Update, Full story from Miami Herald 

Two Miami men who fled after being charged with cocaine trafficking more than a decade ago have been arrested in their native Dominican Republic, where they built new -- and quite public -- lives

Talk about life on the lam.

Pedro Ramón Sánchez was a police lieutenant and elected city councilman in the Dominican Republic. Julio Cesar Valerio became a naval officer for the Caribbean country. Both used their real names.

Now the accused Miami cocaine traffickers are finally in jail, after fleeing the United States more than a decade ago.

Both men had used fake identities -- Juan Ramón Ignacio Sánchez-Almonte and Concepción Geovanny De Jesus Acosta -- to obtain travel documents from the Dominican Republic consulate in Miami to return to their native country in 1999, U.S. officials said. Once there, they reinvented themselves in politics and the military.

Dominican authorities and U.S. marshals caught up with the pair this fall. Valerio, 42, arrested after a traffic stop in Santo Domingo last month, was extradited to the United States on Friday and ordered held without bond.

Sánchez, 49, after learning of Valerio's arrest, went into hiding in the central Dominican city of La Vega, officials said. Thanks to a tip, he was arrested Friday at a health clinic and will be extradited in coming weeks.


``These warrants never go away, and neither do our investigations,'' said U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Barry Golden. ``We never stop.''

Sánchez and Valerio were initially arrested in Miami in August 1999 by the Drug Enforcement Administration in a case dubbed ``Operation High Tide.'' The DEA targeted them as part of an alleged ring that collaborated with the Cali cartel in Colombia to distribute cocaine in the United States and launder drug profits in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Puerto Rico, authorities said.

When DEA agents arrested the pair, they found a bag with $160,000 cash and a cardboard box with more than 11 pounds of cocaine, according to a criminal complaint.

The men were indicted under their real names on conspiracy and distribution charges, which carried potential penalties upon conviction of up to life imprisonment. Both surrendered their travel documents and received $250,000 bonds from U.S. Magistrate Judge Ted E. Bandstra.

But, assuming different identities, the two men then walked into the Dominican Republic consulate in Miami, obtained travel papers and fled to their native country.

Sánchez first worked for the Ministry of Agriculture in La Vega, before entering politics and winning the city council seat in 2006.

Dominican authorities said that when Sánchez was arrested, he was carrying a national identity card, voting card, lawyer's card and an official ID identifying him as a lieutenant of the municipal police department in La Vega.

``Normally, a fugitive tries to stay under the radar screen,'' Golden said. ``The last thing you would expect is for a fugitive to run for public office.''

Meanwhile, Valerio enlisted in the Dominican Republic Navy and held the rank of sergeant.


In October 2008, deputy marshals assigned to the Caribbean nation and the Dominican National police pinpointed addresses for the two fugitives. The U.S. attorney's office in Miami prepared provisional arrest warrants, which were approved in October by the Dominican government.

On Oct. 21, Valerio was stopped while driving a Mitsubishi Montero in Santo Domingo. Sánchez was arrested Friday in La Vega.

Valerio's attorney, Joaquin Perez, and Sánchez's lawyer, Nelson Rodriguez-Varela, could not be reached for comment.

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Go back | Date: 17 Nov 2010
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