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The Miami Herald
Posted on Wed, Apr. 20, 2011
Dominican police and soldiers are increasingly getting in the drug trade

By Frances Robles
frobles at
Former Dominican Navy Capt. Edward Mayobanex Rodriguez was sentenced to 30 years in prison for trafficking cocaine and the 2008 killings of seven Colombian drug dealers.

The case in the southern city of Bani exploded a wave of corruption in the National Police and military, which have dismissed more than 5,000 officers in three years.

Photo is from a March 8 habeus corpus in which he said his life was being threatened.

SPECIAL TO THE HERALD/ Jorge Cruz - Santo Domingo
Jorge Cruz / Jorge Cruz, Santo Domingo
Former Dominican Navy Capt. Edward Mayobanex Rodriguez was sentenced to 30 years in prison for trafficking cocaine and the 2008 killings of seven Colombian drug dealers.

The case in the southern city of Bani exploded a wave of corruption in the National Police and military, which have dismissed more than 5,000 officers in three years.

Photo is from a March 8 habeus corpus in which he said his life was being threatened.

SPECIAL TO THE HERALD/ Jorge Cruz - Santo Domingo
Elías Enmanuel Núñez is an ex-cop on the run.

The former lieutenant with the Dominican Republic's National Police anti-narcotics unit accused his supervisors of protecting drug dealers and stealing dope. He was fired, threatened with death, and officially logged as one of the 5,000 crooked police officers, soldiers or anti-narcotics agents sacked in the past three years.

"I would arrest a drug dealer for having however many kilos of cocaine, and the next day the drugs I seized would be gone, and the guy would be back on his corner," Núñez told The Miami Herald.

"I did not offer myself to that kind of thing, and now I can't even get a job as a security guard."

Núñez eventually went public, and the colonels in question were suspended.

They are among thousands of law enforcement officers that Dominican authorities acknowledge have become hit men, thieves or drug traffickers.

Many formed business partnerships with the Dominican drug dealers and Colombian cartels that move massive amounts of cocaine by land and sea through the island of Hispaniola.

As more Colombian drugs move through the Dominican Republic on their way to Europe and the United States, traffickers have corrupted the very institutions charged with keeping them at bay, destabilizing already weak agencies plagued by low pay and graft.

Entire trafficking networks have been dismantled from within the armed forces, National Police and the country's specialized quasi-military anti-drug corps.

More than 20 percent of the National Drug Control Directorate, the country's equivalent of the DEA, was fired last year, underscoring the need for massive reform in a country where U.S. anti-drug aid has dwindled.

"There is no question that most of the heavy lifting in drug trafficking in the Dominican Republic is being done by the military: They are the ones who facilitate the entry of drugs," said Miami attorney Joaquin Perez, who represents traffickers.

"They get a commission, in the form of drugs, and then find someone to sell it."


Earlier this month, 12 soldiers, including a captain and lieutenant colonel assigned to the Puerto Plata airport anti-drug agency were arrested in a scheme to smuggle 33 kilos of cocaine to Canada in a child's suitcase, prosecutors announced.

An internal affairs lieutenant investigating dirty cops was murdered in January.

A commission that probed last year's high profile arrest of fugitive Puerto Rican kingpin José David Figueroa Agosto recommended the dismissal of 13 police officers, including six bosses.

The issue exploded here in August 2008, when seven Colombian men were found dead in Paya, a village near Bani, a southern Dominican city. Twenty two people -- among them soldiers who posed as drug agents -- were convicted of robbing the Colombians of 1,300 kilos of cocaine and then murdering them.

Gen. Rolando Rosado stepped in as head of the National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD) last year and fired 418 of his 2,000 officers.

"They have to take out what doesn't work, and if that leaves 10 people, then they need to start over with those 10 people," said Jordy Veras, an attorney in Santiago, a city north of the capital.

"The situation is very grave."

Veras was shot twice in the head last year by hit men hired by a former client's jailed husband.

Seven cops and one Navy officer were arrested.


Anti-corruption activist Julio De La Rosa, a professor at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, said a university study showed that of 10 reported crimes, six were committed by police officers.

"Based on our experience, the honorable police who commit no crime make up maybe 35 percent of the National Police," said De La Rosa, who runs the Dominican Anti-Corruption Alliance.

"Some don't participate in drug trafficking, but during searches may keep some of the suspect's belongings.

In the armed forces, you see more support and backup to illicit organizations.

Murders and crime are more the work of the National Police.''

Former officers, lawyers and activists interviewed stressed that while the corruption is rampant and has nabbed colonels and captains, the agency chiefs are widely believed to be honest.

"Gen. Rosado, he's been there a year and a half and is really doing a very excellent job in his efforts to tackle drug trafficking in the Dominican Republic and to weed out many of these bad apples," said a U.S. government official who, citing policy, spoke on the condition that he not be named.

The number of officers and soldiers removed are staggering.

The Listin Diario newspaper recently published a three-year tally:

• The armed Forces has fired 2,300 soldiers in the past three years, including two generals and six colonels

• 1,100 soldiers dismissed from the Air Force

• 1,200 police officers fired by the last police chief

• The Army said it fired more than 100 soldiers for drug offenses alone.

"It is not an isolated situation: it is systemic and constant," Rosado said.

Experts warn that the purges are a façade because many of the fired officers are never criminally charged.

"They are creating a problem because they fire people who have already made contacts with criminal organizations," De La Rosa said. "It's not like these people are going to go work for private companies."

Javier Cabreja, who heads the nonprofit group Citizen Participation, said many fired officers wind up back on the job months later.

"It's a way to claim to the public that you are doing something but without doing true reform," he said.

Rosado said the DNCD now offers perks to attack paltry salaries that top brass acknowledges are part of the problem.

Officers now get a month's minimum wages for every kilo of cocaine seized, if the seizure comes with a criminal suspect.

"We will never be able to compete with what the narcos offer," he said. "If we arm them with values, yes, they can resist the temptation."

If officers bring in the drug traffickers who attempt to pay them off, they are now rewarded with the amount of the bribe.

For most of 2010, only two bribery cases were brought against drug traffickers.

But from last September to March of this year: 39.

"It has awakened the spirit of the work," Rosado said.

Mabel Feliz, the Dominican government's top drug policy administrator, said corruption spread when the Dominican Republic stopped being just a transit nation perfectly positioned half-way between Colombia and the United States.

Cartels started paying dealers in product instead of cash, creating a domestic market that produced hundreds of drug sale points, which offered low-paid patrolmen an opportunity for extra bribe money to augment the $150 monthly salaries.


"The officers live in extreme poverty, and drug traffickers use all methods to conquer them," she said. "The government has responded.'' She stressed that high school diplomas are now required to join the police department.

In 2004, President Leonel Fernández hired Florida International University Prof. Eduardo Gamarra as a consultant to conduct police reform.

Initial pilot programs were successful, but Gamarra acknowledges that the wholesale layoffs required became politically unfeasible.

The culture of the institutions must change, including better pay, training and incentives that make the officers proud to be cops, he said..

"Am I being successful because all these cops were arrested, or am I a failure because all these cops were arrested?" he said. "The reason you are seeing more cases is because they are being found, purged and expelled; some are even serving time."

Read more:

5000 Dominican military and police involved in crime
posted on: Nov 12 2010 8:39 by The Reporter.

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The drug trade has infiltrated the police and military ranks in the Dominican Republic to the point that more than 5000 agents of the Armed Forces, National Police and the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), responsible for combating this scourge, have been brought to justice sanctioned or expelled from their respective institutions over the past three years.

The data compiled recently by a leading Dominican newspaper notes that a large number of the accused are imprisoned in different jails and have outstanding lawsuits, including six officers who were heads of anti-narcotics units in Santiago, Monte Cristi, San Francisco de Macoris, El Seibo, La Romana and central Santo Domingo.

With the arrest late Wednesday of Miguel Rodriguez, head of the Police Narcotics Unit in San Francisco de Macoris while carrying a cache of 400 kilograms of cocaine, along with several alleged drug traffickers, including Colombians, makes 34 senior and junior officers terminated and prosecuted for drug trafficking so far this year.

Most of those dismissed were in the DNCD, some 185 officers, NCOs, corporals, privates and civil servants.

"Many have been dismissed for negligence or cover-ups at airports and in regions around the country and brought to justice in cases that have merit," said Colonel Alcides Rodríguez Veras, spokesman for the DNCD.

The officer said that what matters is not the number of officers or agents of the DNCD dismissed or arrested for drug crimes, but the fact that the agency is cleaning the facility.

"It shows that the DNCD works and the law applies even to their own members regardless of rank or position."

Rodriguez Veras said the participation of agents and military officers with drug dealers, does not mean complicity of the corresponding institutions to which they belong with organized crime.

Among the commanders of the police narcotics unit and the DNCD who have been arrested with "handling drugs" and brought to justice, are Lieutenant Colonels Franklyn Peralta from Santiago, Edwin Herrera Martinez from central Santo Domingo, Jorge Luis Peña Segura from La Romana, and Lieutenant José Polanco Jimenez from Montecristy.

Others were removed from divisions in Nagua, Hato Mayor, San Cristóbal and Puerto Plata.

More than 1200 police officers, including several officers, were dismissed by the former police chief, Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzmán Fermín.

To date, the then head of the Dominican Air Force, Major General Carlos Rafael Altuna Tezanos, announced the expulsion of 600 members, but that figure later rose to 1100, for criminal acts, primarily drug trafficking.

More than a dozen officers of the Navy have this year been arrested for the drug related massacre in Paya (Bani) back in August 2008. The current military chief of the agency, Vice-Admiral Homero Luis Lajara Solá has purged some 400 members and said it would continue the cleaning work.

In recent weeks, headlines such as, "Two DNCD agents arrested with drugs", "officials transferred a thousand kilos to Miami", "CESA agents detained with cocaine", have been common.

Despite the large number of soldiers and police linked to drug trafficking, the good news is that their own agencies, the Police, DNCD, Army, Air Force and Navy, have apprehended officers of all ranks and officials linked to organized crime.

It is not easy to purify a military force with to 53,114 active members and 20,547 pensioners, a total of 73,661 employees, and National Police with 31,385 active and 12,209 pensioners, totaling 43,594, with a grand total of 117,255, according to data from the General Controller updated six months ago.

Recall that the former army chief, Major General Jose Ricardo Estrella, said that in two years the army had dismissed 5,200 members, twenty percent of its 25,600 members.

He did not specify the causes, but said in more than a hundred cases, including officers, the dismissals were for drug trafficking and for a positive drug test findings.

The Ministry of the Armed Forces reported that in the last four years they have dismissed 2300 military personnel, including two generals and six colonels for drug trafficking, theft and other crimes.

The former head of the DNCD revealed two years ago, that during his two year term he dismissed or transferred to other institutions more than 4000 members, a sum that approaches the total number of agents in the anti-drug agency.

Maj. Gen. Rolando Rosado Mateo, current head of the DNCD, has implemented the largest number of arrests, around 100 officers and agents.

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Agent X, May 3 2011, 4:56 PM

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You are a sub-literate because you misrepresented what I said. Get yourself a tutor to teach you how to read. It is... read more >
Agent X, 2-May-11 6:51 pm
AgentX, my name is Audrey Williams. I don't know if you are Haitian or Caribbean but based on your article I think... read more >
Audrey Williams, 3-May-11 3:00 am
Kabrit gader je moune avant li entrer na kayy. Peup la se pitimi san gador se sa fet ke defenseur moune riche yo ap pe... read more >
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Agent X, First time I ever agreed with you then there is no more to add you have said it all. I amm really appreciated... read more >
Pastor Rivel Dumaine Dr., 3-May-11 2:22 pm
Agent-X greatly appreciated your comment.Let expect that Michel Martelly will deceive our expectations as a tioul... read more >
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Dirty cop,did hear you clear saying Lavalas? Voodoo headquarter in the USA Ambassy? read more >
Jean Pierre Alexandre, 3-May-11 3:29 pm
That is right. After we expelled the useless Americans, French, and Canadians from Haiti, we will convert their... read more >
Agent X, 3-May-11 4:36 pm
The Miami Herald Posted on Wed, Apr. 20, 2011 Dominican police and soldiers are increasingly getting in the drug trade... read more >
Agent X, 3-May-11 4:56 pm
What about the UN army in our soil? read more >
Jean Pierre Alexandre, 3-May-11 7:51 pm
Ask Guy Phillip while he still hidding under the bed in a cafe bouzin at Carrefour in Haiti. read more >
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