Dominican Republic: DNCD seizes 632 kilograms of cocaine
By Dialogo March 01, 2012
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Dominican counter-narcotics authorities detained two suspected smugglers and seized a major cocaine shipment allegedly trafficked by boat from South America to the Caribbean country’s southern coast.
The Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) on Feb. 22 seized 632.9 kilograms (1,392 pounds) of cocaine that had been divided into 616 packets. Dominican nationals Samil David Arredondo Cedeño and Pedro de Peña Rodríguez were turned over to prosecutors for interrogation.
DNCD spokesman Roberto Lebrón said the seizure was the result of a two-month investigation known as “Operation Volcano.”
The cocaine, allegedly en route from South America to Puerto Rico through the Dominican Republic, had changed hands about 60 miles off the coast of the Dominican seaside town Boca Chica.
“We are facing an organization that was receiving [narcotics shipments] from Colombia and Venezuela using go-fast boats to pick up the drugs on the high seas,” Lebrón said.
Other suspects involved in the operation are still at-large, and Lebrón declined to provide additional details until the operation had concluded.
The Dominican military used aircraft to track the shipment into the country. Once there, the military and police followed the cocaine to Boca Chica, a small resort town east of the capital, Santo Domingo.
The alleged traffickers were found in a hotel and in an SUV parked nearby. Twenty-five plastic bags filled with bundles of cocaine had been loaded into a gold Toyota 4Runner.
The drugs were sent to laboratories for testing and weighing.
DNCD officials said it is likely the cocaine was bound for Puerto Rico, but the narco-traffickers could have been trying to send it to Europe. The material used to package the drugs originated from a sugar mill in Yaracuy in western Venezuela, suggesting the involvement of Venezuelans.
“It’s likely that at any moment other arrests will materialize, because the DNCD and other state security agencies have identified the other members of the network that received the drugs,” Lebrón said.
The seizure adds to an increasingly active interception campaign by Dominican authorities, as the DNCD has confiscated about 1,720 kilograms (3,784 pounds) of cocaine and about 27,000 pills of illicit substances so far this year.
Lebrón attributed the seizures to cooperation among security forces nationwide.
The Dominican Republic has long been at the center of the Caribbean smuggling trade serving as a major transshipment point for South American drugs. Recently, traffickers have used the island of Hispaniola – which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti – to move drugs to Europe, authorities said.
But intensified efforts to crack down on trafficking have resulted in successes for Dominican authorities.
Last year, authorities seized 6,715 kilograms (about 14,775 pounds) of cocaine, a 48% increase from the previous year when authorities confiscated 4,527 kilograms, according to statistics from the DNCD.