Dominican Cocaine Seizures Set Record in 2012

By Dialogo
December 28, 2012

Authorities in the Dominican Republic seized a record 7,530 kilograms of cocaine in 2012, breaking the previous record of 6,715 kilos set the year before, according to the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control [Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas, or DNCD].
The most recent seizure was on Dec. 22, when the DNCD confiscated 1,190 kilos of cocaine and seven packets of heroin, arresting seven suspects. Operation Lightning, involving both the drug agency, the Dominican Armed Forces and the U.S. Coast Guard, was launched after U.S. officials alerted their Dominican counterparts to suspicious craft 10 miles off San Luís Beach in the province of Pedernales.
The ship’s cargo included numerous capsules of heroin ready to be ingested by “mules” for transshipment to other countries, said a DNCD spokesman.
Analysts attributed the increasing confiscations to pressure put on traffickers who had previously smuggled drugs across Mexico’s border with the United States to get their products to end users.
Dominican police authorities along with the U.S. Coast Guard seized 1,500 kilos of cocaine and arrested four Venezuelans aboard a 40-foot speedboat near the Dominican resort town of Juan Dolio in March. The speedboat was on its way from Colombia to the Dominican Republic, where the drugs were to be transshipped to the United States and Europe.
And in May, three high-ranking DNCD police officials were arrested and accused of providing security for drug traffickers. Authorities also arrested four men allegedly waiting for a drug shipment bound for Puerto Rico, said DNCD chief Rolando Rosado Mateo.
DNCD nabs cocaine on its way to France
In August, the DNCD seized 770 kilos of cocaine that traffickers allegedly intended to ship to the Dutch port of Rotterdam. Though no one was arrested, officials were able to gather intelligence that led to the Oct. 21 arrest of eight suspects after a dramatic shootout with assailants traveling in two vehicles near Santo Domingo. Police confiscated 770 one-kilo packets of cocaine from the vehicles and 106 cocaine packets in 10 subsequent raids of houses in the Santo Domingo metropolitan area for a total of 950 kilos of the white powder.
On Sep. 2, DNCD agents discovered 778 kilos of cocaine in a shipping container in the port of Boca Chica east of Santo Domingo. Four suspects were detained. Two days later, Dominican and U.S. drug enforcement officials — in an action known as Operation Safe Coast — seized 1,600 kilos of cocaine after the bales were thrown overboard from a speedboat 50 nautical miles south of Saona Island. The speedboat crew fled and escaped capture.
Less than 24 hours after that, the DNCD arrested three suspected traffickers including U.S. citizen Robert Bruce Adams and two Dominicans, Juan Carlos López and Tirso Bisono. Officials confiscated 120 kilos of cocaine aboard a boat apparently heading for Great Inagua, Bahamas.
On Oct. 7, the DNCD seized 336 kilos of cocaine that were to be sent to Le Havre, France, via the Caucedo Multimodal Port, camouflaged as medical equipment. Rosado Mateo said the drugs were packed into nine suitcases found in a container at the marine terminal of La Romana.
Airline owner arrested for drug smuggling
Also in October, the DNCD broke up a criminal ring allegedly working for the Mexican Gulf cartel, arresting 15 people including Army Lt. Col. Juan Ramón Rosado Pérez, three other Dominican military and police officials and the prominent president of a local airline.
Those arrested, including Dominicans, Jamaicans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Americans and Bahamians, allegedly brought aircraft into the Dominican Republic to modify them to fly longer distances and carry more illicit cargo from South America, principally Venezuela, to such countries as Honduras and Haiti where they would be transshipped to the United States or Europe.
Rafael Rosado, president of the small airline CaribAir, was arrested and named by officials as the ringleader. A CaribAir plane that crashed Sep. 27 near Constanza was allegedly part of the operation. Authorities seized an estimated $250 million worth of assets as evidence.
The DNCD and the U.S. Coast Guard teamed up again Dec. 10 to intercept 10 parcels of cocaine from a boat off the southeastern coast, arresting a Colombian citizen at the scene. DNCD officials arrested José Calderón Rijo, alias “La Araña” — a Dominican citizen who posed as an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry — and two other suspects of unknown nationality.