Dominican Republic: 2013 opens with huge cocaine seizure

By Dialogo
January 11, 2013

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The Dominican National
Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD), Navy and Air Force worked together to seize a
huge shipment of South American cocaine, marking the first major bust of 2013.

On Jan. 9, the three forces seized 1,870 kilograms (4,123 pounds) of cocaine
in Ocoa Bay in Azua province, west of the nation’s capital of Santo Domingo, on the
country’s Caribbean coast.

Roberto Lebrón, the DNCD’s spokesman, said two men, Ramón Sanz Pimentel and
Arhgenis Cordero Soto, were detained a day later. They were being questioned and the
Attorney General’s office said it was preparing to charge them. Agents also
recovered satellite phones, GPS and navigation equipment, fuel and ammunition
magazines for AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles.

The suspected traffickers were transporting the cocaine, likely from Colombia
or Venezuela, on a 40-foot speedboat equipped with three, 200-horsepower outboard

Pursuit of the boat began around 11 a.m. on Jan. 9 in the open waters south
of Ocoa Bay. Agencies were notified of a suspicious boat approaching the island and
responded with a DNCD helicopter, two Air Force Super Tucano aircraft and two Navy

Crews intercepted the boat in Ocoa Bay, forcing it to land at a nearby beach,
Playa Mia.

Four suspects aboard the boat escaped on foot. On Jan. 10, the DNCD announced
it had apprehended Sanz Pimentel and Cordero Soto. Two suspects remain at large.

Aboard the boat, agents discovered 76 sacks covered in plastic containing the
cocaine. Officials said the suspected traffickers likely were also carrying weapons,
which they may have thrown overboard during the pursuit.

Authorities took custody of a second boat they believe was standing by to
assist in transporting the shipment.

The drugs were sent to the National Institute of Forensic Sciences for
testing. From there, they were to be forwarded to the Attorney General’s office,
which is expected to charge the suspects.

“This was a combined effort, similar to what we’ve been doing for a while,
and it’s the result of the work of a core unit that leads our fight against this
criminal activity,” said Maj. Gen. Rolando Rosado Mateo, the head of the DNCD.

Rosado led the operation from aboard the DNCD helicopter that pursued the

The Dominican agencies received air surveillance assistance from the U.S.
Coast Guard.

The seizure marked the biggest anti-narcotics bust in months for Dominican
authorities. The
country seized a record amount of illegal drugs in 2012. Officials
captured 11.2 metric tons (24,691.8 pounds) of illicit substances, including a Dec.
22 operation that seized 1,189.8 kilograms (2,623 pounds) of cocaine from the high
seas south of the Caribbean Coast not far from where the Jan. 9 confiscation

Despite the successful anti-narcotics operations, Dominican officials said
they expect traffickers will continue using the country as a transshipment point,
with most of the shipments entering by sea.
[ (Dominican Republic), 11/01/2013]