|DominicanToday.com - The National Drugs Control Agency (DNCD) yesterday busted an international drug trafficking ring based in the country’s icon resort Casa de Campo, La Romana (east), seized 122 kilos of cocaine on a boat headed to Puerto Rico.
It arrested 29 people, among them five Puerto Ricans and 17 Russians, the latter the crew of a ship where the drug would’ve been shipped and one Dominican and one Colombian.
In the resort the authorities also seized two villas, two apartments, a yacht, a freighter used to transport fuel and molasses to Caribbean islands, and an airplane.
“This structure had its operation between the capital and La Romana, where from a private pier an amount of cocaine was sent and money was received from the United States,” said DNCD spokesman Roberto Lebrón.
He said “Operation earthquake” had the ring under surveillance for a year, and the detainees are being questioned in DNCD headquarters.
Lebrón said the arrests were closely coordinated with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The Dominicans detained are Cinthia Catherine Paula Valerio, Scarle Crisoris Gross de los Santos, Yanira Martínez Pión, Félix María de la Cruz and Genito Toribio Custodio
Puerto Rican headed the ring
The DNCD said the Puerto Rican Omar Alberto Diaz Pavón is the owner of the villas and head of the network; Eduardo Larios Sanchez is the owner of the boat and the yatch where the cocaine was found; Alex Ocasio, pilot and owner of the airplane retained at the La Romana International Airport, and Edwin Nieves Lozado, identified at the contact to buy the drug.
“That network receive drug from South America, especially Colombia, to hold it in the East region, and from there, sent it to Puerto Rico. The money received from those transactions was used to buy properties worth millions, especially villas and apartments,” Lebrón said.
UPDATE: Traffickers based in famous resort bought drugs from Cali Cartel
The group of drug traffickers that operated out of Dominican Republic’s most famous resort Casa de Campo, in eastern La Romana obtained cocaine from the once powerful Cali Cartel and was dismantled after three years of surveillance by the DEA, which detected suspicious financial transactions in Grand Cayman by those detained Tuesday.
The paper trail from those transactions determined that the network had set up operations in Dominican territory since around 2001 and kept a low profile while its ringleaders amassed their fortunes.
That’s how around three years the National Drugs Control Agency was informed of the group’s existence and began to detect several shipments of large amounts of money on an airplane seized Sunday.
In several occasions antinarcotics agents seized money while other confiscations were conducted by Customs agents, but assuring that the ringleaders didn’t become aware that they were the final objective of those operations.
Thus far the ring is considered an independent group of narcotics traffickers which received cocaine from the Cali Cartel, brought it to Dominican Republic to then send it to Puerto Rico using boats, yachts and cargo ships. From the neighboring island they brought the profits in dollars in the small plane seized Tuesday, which flew in and out of the La Romana International Airport.
The band was formed mostly by Puerto Ricans and Colombians, with Dominican collaborators. The 17 Russians arrested in the raid were apparently part of the crew of the ship where the 122 kilos of cocaine seized during the weekend would be sent to Puerto Rico.
The five women arrested, including one Colombian, would be simple “ladies of company” hired by the traffickers for a party they had planned to celebrate the success of one of their drug transactions. They are being held since yesterday in DNCD headquarters to determine if they in fact form part of the drug traffickers.
The Puerto Rican Omar Alberto Diaz Pavón, owner of the villas and presumed ringleader; Eduardo Larios Sanchez, owner the retained ship and boat and in whose power the cocaine was found; Alex Ocasio Morales, an employee of the airline American Eagle, who was Diaz Pavón’s alleged contact to mobilize the money from his “command and control center” located in the villa number 31 the street Barrance Este, in Casa de Campo, valued at least US$20.0 million.
Dominican Watchdog Note: Amazing and this is the second large drug ring to operate inside Casa de Campo in a few months..... read about the first one here:
The authorities called the network one of the most powerful in the Caribbean region, charged with shipping more than 300 kilos cocaine to the United States. Several of the members was caught in or around different villas in Casa de Campo. Casa de Campo is the #1 playground for corrupt government officials, exiled presidents and drug lords in the Dominican Republic........