Dominican Navy boats protected Colombian drug shipments  - Around 30 Dominican military officers, some of them with the authority to use Navy craft to escort and protect planes and boats which brought drugs to the country, were part of a drug-trafficking support structure which has been dismantled partially, according to an investigation conducted jointly with U.S. since 2007.

The U.S. Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Immigration Customs and Service (ICE) and the Dominican Drugs Control Agency staged a sting operation including the use of a camouflaged American military plane to transport a dummy load of 500 kilos of cocaine, to uncover the officers’ complicity with the large drug shipments from Colombia.

Investigators of the Caribbean Corridor Security Forces (CCSF), formed by those four agencies, found that the ex Dominican Navy commander Carlos Rossó and ex lieutenant commander Miguel Suárez, together with more than other 20 officers whose identities haven’t been revealed, provided Navy boats to escort small craft which brought drugs from Colombia, and top secret intelligence information to Colombian traffickers, letting them know when to bring the drugs.

A U.S. undercover agent infiltrated the group and gave Rossó a satellite cellphone and a Blackberry equipped to trace the location of the Dominican Navy office, who used both items to protect cocaine shipments from a ring formed by the Dominican Heriberto Almonte and by the Colombians Harvey Bermúdez Lasso and Gustavo Gallego Cordoba.

One suspect identified as Daniel A. González received and handed the drugs to Almonte, while another, a woman by the name of Amparo Balaguera Sarta was the money exchange agent and managed the drug dispatches from Colombia, and is directly linked to Bermúdez.

The probe, whose results are contained in the case now in Puerto Rico’s Federal District Court to request Rossó’s and Suárez’s extradition to Puerto Rico, says that in 2007 and 2008 both “Dominican military officers use their position of influence and access to military intelligence to provide security to the drug shipments that enter and leave the Dominican Republic.”

Héctor Rodriguez, a Colombian pilot who resided in the country, was a direct partner of both ex Dominican officers. He’s said to be “an expert in drug airdrops,” whereas Almonte’s brother, Eduardo, resident in Colombia, negotiated shipments with the Colombian traffickers.

The report states that wiretapped conversations in October, 2007, Bermúdez presented Almonte “a confidential witness” of the DEA and this one informed him that the Dominican “had large amounts of money from drug trafficking in New York and Puerto Rico and needed to transfer the money to Colombia, to obtain other cocaine shipments in the future.”

DEA undercover agents received a first money sum from Almonte of 62,000 dollars and transferred it to Colombia, where Sarta and Gallego received  it. That money was an advance to cover part of the costs to ship the 1,500 kilos of cocaine air. One agent acted as an intermediary for Almonte, who later sent 40,000 dollars from the country to several addressees in Colombia.

Go back | Date: 28 Oct 2009
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