Dominican Republic: Cocaine laboratory dismantled
By Dialogo September 04, 2013
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Dominican authorities for the first time discovered and dismantled a clandestine cocaine processing laboratory, providing fresh evidence that international drug trafficking rings are establishing themselves in the Caribbean country.
The laboratory was found on a farm near a small town 40 kilometers west of the capital, Santo Domingo, where two Colombians were arrested recently, the National Police said on Sept. 3.
The laboratory was similar to processing facilities found in the Colombian jungle, where authorities periodically discover large labs capable of producing thousands of kilograms of cocaine.
Police allege the Colombians, John Jairo Roldán Estrada and Ángel Fernando Vargas, built the facility, part of which was below ground. At the time of the raid, police found seven microwave ovens, a press, scales, more than 100 plastic bags and a four-gallon tank of ammonia, among other paraphernalia.
Police said they seized 225 kilograms of cocaine paste, the base used to produce powder cocaine for consumption. The paste could have been turned into as much as 2,000 kilograms of cocaine, police said.
The National Police, which led the operation, called the seizure an “unprecedented blow against organized crime” in a prepared statement.
The Dominican Republic has long been one of the favored transshipment points in the Caribbean, with an estimated 6% of cocaine bound for the U.S. traveling through the country. As much as 11% of cocaine bound for Europe also passes through the island, as traffickers have infiltrated shipping containers and airports to move small and large shipments abroad.
However, in recent years authorities have seen arms of international criminal groups establishing operations in the country. With an increased presence, authorities have also witnessed increased consumption in the Dominican Republic.
National Police Chief Maj. Gen. Manuel Castro Castillo said the discovery of the lab “shows how international drug trafficking is advancing in the Dominican Republic.”
As evidence of the presence of international criminal organizations, authorities have arrested several alleged drug smugglers from Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and elsewhere during the past year.
At the site of the lab seizure, heads of Dominican agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police, the National Department of Investigations and the National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD), gathered and pledged to coordinate their efforts in the counter-narcotics fight.
“We will continue to fight tirelessly, chasing [drug trafficking] in all its forms, by air, by sea and by land,” said Attorney General Francisco Domínguez Brito.
He vowed to “arrest and prosecute all those responsible … and we will continue investigating this case and all cases.”
[Infosurhoy.com (Dominican Republic), 03/09/2013; Procuraduría General de la República (Dominican Republic), 30/08/2013]