Operation Falcon: Major raids in Santiago, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana

Hector Darío Feliz Feliz / N Digital

With the backing of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States, local prosecutors from the Attorney General Office (PGR) and the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) carried out a major offensive in Santiago, the National District, Santo Domingo province and Punta Cana early on 8 September 2021. The Operation Falcon is a major crack on drug trafficking in the country. The raids took people by surprise.

Commenting on Operation Falcon, President Luis Abinader said: “In this country there are no sacred cows.” He reiterated his commitment to end impunity for administrative corruption and organized crime. Legislator Hector Dario Felix Feliz and a government officer, Juan Maldonado Castro are investigated in the case.

Diario Libre reports that Operation Falcon reveals the level of involvement of politicians with drug trafficking. Juan Maldonado Castro is head of the Comunidad Digna, a governmental welfare agency. Maldonado Castro had been a deputy for the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) from 2006-2010 representing El Seibo, one of the country’s poorest provinces. Today his wife is a deputy for El Seibo. Maldonado eventually would join the ruling PRM political party, shortly before that party became the ruling party. President Abinader issued Decree 550-21 dated 8 September 2021, suspending Maldonado Castro from his government position. Maldonado Castro was appointed in September 2020.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has named the case Operation Falcón and explains it is an offensive against drug trafficking and money laundering in the National District and eight provinces. The raids follow months of investigating. More than 60 prosecutors and around 200 DNCD agents participated in the criminal enforcement action.

Also arrested according to the PGR are brothers Juan José and José Alejandro de la Cruz Morales, María Olimpia Tavárez, Lenin Bladimir Torres Bueno and Delfina Asunción Polanco, among others.

The authorities reported seizing dozens of assets, including fuel stations, high-end vehicles and luxury watches.

Deputy Attorney General Yeni Berenice Reynoso emphasized that the operation is part of the actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office against organized crime. “The operation is in progress. We will offer more details later, but we can advance that it is a complex investigation carried out by the Public Ministry under Attorney General Miriam German Brito”, she said.

The action involves the participation of prosecutors from Santiago, under the direct responsibility of Osvaldo Bonilla, and agents of the DNCD, under the direct command of its head, Vice-Admiral José Manuel Cabrera Ulloa.

Adjunct Prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso said that deputy for the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD-Pedernales) Hector Dario Felix Feliz (Pirrin) is under investigation in the Falcon Operation. Felix Feliz is the speaker for the PRD in the Chamber of Deputies. He sits on the Chamber of Deputies Permanent Contracts Committee. Reynoso said Felix Feliz was not arrested because he has privileges as a legislator, but that he is under investigation because during the raids he was transporting in his vehicle a person sought by the prosecutors for extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges and linked to the Falcon Operation. Felix Feliz’s vehicle was seized. Reynoso said the case against Felix Feliz would be heard in the Supreme Court of Justice.

Noticias SIN reports that Juan José de la Cruz Morales had been accused in 2016 by US authorities in the seizure of 1,786 kilos of cocaine, the largest cocaine shipment in Puerto Rico’s history. The drugs were confiscated in 2016. His brother Jose Alejandro de la Cruz Morales was arrested in 2013 by Puerto Rican authorities for attempted illegal entry.

Noticias SIN reports that Maria Olimpia Tavarez was ordered to serve three months preventive jail in 2013 for laundering RD$100 million for her Colombian boyfriend Huber Oswaldo Buitrago Ruiz. Buitrago Ruiz was sentenced in 2016 for asset laundering and released from jail in 2020.

As reported, the director of the money laundering department at the Attorney General Office, Adjunct Prosecutor Luis Gonzalez and his staff have been suspended. It is reported that inspector general of the PGR, Juan Medina intervened the division. As reported, the division will remain closed while the investigations continue. Gonzalez had been appointed to the position in 2018 under then Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez.

Read more in Spanish:
N Digital
N Digital
Diario Libre
Somos Pueblo
Noticias SIN
Noticias SIN
Noticias SIN
Noticias SIN
Noticias SIN
El Caribe
El Dia
Listin Diario
El Dia

9 September 2021