Dominican Republic: DNCD makes huge cocaine bust
By Dialogo October 24, 2012
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Dominican police and counter-narcotics authorities said they broke up an international drug trafficking ring responsible for smuggling South American drugs through the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) said on Oct. 21 it found hundreds of packets of cocaine after stopping two vehicles traveling toward the capital of Santo Domingo on a highway in southwestern Dominican Republic. Agents discovered more packets in raids following the seizure of the vehicles.
Authorities estimated the shipment weighed around 950 kilograms (2,094.4 pounds) and had a street value of millions of U.S. dollars.
Police arrested eight suspects during the seizure, which culminated in a dramatic shootout in the early morning hours of Oct. 21. Following the arrests, authorities carried out at least 10 raids on houses and apartments in search of the suspected leaders of the ring, said District Attorney Yeni Berenice Reynoso’s office in a statement.
The detained were identified as Julio César Herrera Marte, Marcelino Cuevas Féliz, Melvin Pérez, Jesús Javier, Ramón Villar, Joé Luis García Ortiz and sisters Dalisis and Eriné Turbí. Reynoso’s office said authorities were searching for brothers Sair Luis and Otto Luis Ducasse Herrera, César Peralta, Pedro Mota and a man they only identified as “La Araña” (The Spider).
Authorities said the group smuggled the drugs from South America to the Dominican Republic’s Caribbean coast via speedboats.
Around 5 a.m. on Oct. 21, police and DNCD agents set up a traffic stop for vehicles traveling between Santo Domingo and the southwestern Dominican Republic. Authorities stopped a white Toyota Tundra pickup truck and a black Honda Acura SUV.
The DNCD said occupants of the vehicles opened fire at agents and a shootout followed, during which at least one suspect was injured.
When the exchange of gunfire ended, police found 770 packets of cocaine in the vehicles. Police immediately carried out several raids on houses and apartments, including a house in the La Castellana neighborhood of Santo Domingo, where Herrera Marte lived.
Agents found an additional 106 packets of cocaine in the home and more cocaine in other raids for a total of 928 packets. The cocaine was sent to the National Institute of Forensic Sciences’ laboratories for testing and weighing, authorities said.
DNCD Chief Gen. Rolando Rosado Mateo said the same criminal ring received 777 kilograms (1,713 pounds) of cocaine via speedboats on the southern coast in August. The group allegedly then tried to send a cocaine shipment to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, in a shipping container.
In that case, authorities seized the shipment from the Multimodal Port Caucedo outside the beach town Boca Chica, east of the capital. Rosado said authorities gathered intelligence on the group since the raid.
Agents followed suspected drug traffickers for several days, including at a party in an entertainment center known as Cigarro Café. It was then agents began to follow Sair Luis Ducasse Herrera, whom they identified as the “main brain” of an international operation that smuggled drugs out of South America, using the Dominican Republic as a bridge.