Dominican Republic: 1.5 metric tons of cocaine seized
By Dialogo September 06, 2012
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The Dominican Republic tallied one of its biggest drug busts of the year on Sept. 4, seizing 1.5 metric tons (3,307 pounds) of cocaine during a joint operation with U.S. counter-narcotics agencies in the Caribbean Sea, officials said.
The seizure came after authorities detected two speedboats traveling north toward the Dominican coast from Colombia. The Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) coordinated with the Dominican Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in what it called 'Operation Safe Coast.'
With assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in Santo Domingo, Dominican authorities boarded a Super Tucano aircraft and sent Coast Guard cutters toward the speedboats.
They found 60 bales of cocaine floating in the Caribbean roughly 50 miles south of Saona Island, a small Dominican territory off the southeast coast of the mainland. A U.S. Coast Guard boat collected another 37 bales, authorities said.
Authorities added each bale contained at least 25 brick-sized packets of cocaine. Drug traffickers had dumped the cache in the water and escaped. No arrests were made.
The overnight operation, which began at 10 p.m. on Sept. 3 and ended noon the following day, was the latest example of the close collaboration between Dominican and U.S. authorities, DNCD President Maj. Gen. Rolando Rosado Mateo said at a press conference attended by the chief of the DEA office in the country.
“It has become a custom that these institutions coordinate to deal with organized crime,” Rosado said in the press conference. The significant seizure “is the result of the work we’ve been doing. We’re talking facts.”
In size, the bust matched a seizure made in March by the DNCD. In that operation, authorities discovered 1.5 metric tons of cocaine aboard a 40-foot speedboat that had also sailed from the Colombian coast.
The Sept. 4 operation was the second major bust in less than a week for Dominican authorities. On Sept. 2, DNCD agents discovered 777.6 kilograms (1,714.3 pounds) stashed in a shipping container in a port in Boca Chica, a beach town east of the capital of Santo Domingo.
Rosado said the 25 packages of drugs were found hidden in electronic security equipment on a container to be shipped to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Some were marked with the picture of a tiger and the word “tigre,” according to the DNCD.
At least four suspects were detained, although authorities had not revealed their identities because the investigation was ongoing. Rosado said some of those detained worked at the port, which is the busiest in the Dominican Republic.
“This seizure came after about a month of investigation carried out by the DNCD, together with other security agencies,” Rosado said.
Agents from the Dominican Navy, Port Security Office and Military Intelligence Agency assisted in the investigation.
Rosado said they had identified other suspects, who’d come from South America.
“We guarantee that all involved in this case will be arrested and brought to justice,” he said.
Dominican authorities have voiced concern about the prevalence of narco-trafficking off its southern coast. In the past year, it has scored several major victories against the trade.
Between February and March, officials announced three major successful operations, seizing nearly three metric tons (6,614 pounds) of cocaine in total.