16 de septiembre de 2019
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2 Former Major League ballplayers accused of drug trafficking in D.R.

Santo Domingo, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Authorities have dismantled a large drug trafficking ring in the Dominican Republic whose members included former Major League Baseball (MLB) players Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo, Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez said Tuesday.

The 45-year-old Dotel, who pitched for a then-record 13 different MLB teams in his career, has already been arrested, Rodriguez said in a press conference.

Castillo, a 43-year-old former second baseman who won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003, is still at large and is one of 18 suspects for whom arrest warrants have been issued, the AG said.

The operation is the "broadest and most extensive" ever launched against drug traffickers in the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez said.

The drug trafficking network's chief was Cesar Emilio Peralta, a businessman who owns several nightclubs and entertainment centers in Santo Domingo, the AG said.

Peralta, a fugitive, was involved in the criminal organizations led by Rolando Florian Feliz, known as the "Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean," who died in 2009.

Rodriguez said the ring's other leaders were Baltazar Mesa, Jose Jesus Tapia Perez and Sergio Gomez Diaz. Tapia Perez and Gomez Diaz are under arrest.

Authorities spent months investigating the ring with assistance from the United States, which has filed extradition requests for several of the suspects.

Peralta "created a complex criminal organization," Rodriguez said, adding that the gang leader laundered drug money "using numerous individuals from his family and social circle, including even national sports figures" like Dotel and Castillo.

Peralta ran "one of the most important (criminal) organizations in the Caribbean region and United States, whose members used the Dominican Republic as a bridge for introducing drugs from South America into the United States," the AG said.

Some of the drugs "remained in the country, where they were sold at different locations," Rodriguez said.

More than 700 security forces members, including 500 police officers and soldiers, conducted searches early Tuesday in Santo Domingo, Santiago and La Romana, targeting nearly 80 buildings and residences linked to the suspects.

Officials said the shipment of more than 1,000 kilos of cocaine bound from South America to the United States that was seized several months ago belonged to the gang.

"The time comes for every criminal, the time came for this criminal organization and we can say that as of this day, it is dismantled," Rodriguez said. EFE

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