Retired former New York Mets players Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo were among several people arrested or named by authorities Tuesday in one of the biggest international drug-trafficking rings in their native Dominican Republic’s history.
Dotel, 45, who at one time also pitched for the Yankees, was arrested and second baseman Castillo, 43, identified as a member of the cocaine and opioid empire of César “The Abuser” Peralta, who remained a fugitive, Dominican Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said Tuesday.
The case was the “largest operation against organized crime ever conducted in the country,” Rodríguez said.
In all, 21 people were either taken into custody, named or being sought, he said.
Organized with a “Mafia structure,” Peralta’s cartel “used the Dominican Republic as a bridge for the transit and entry of illicit drugs to the United States from South America,” the attorney general told reporters.
“More than 50 career prosecutors, assisted by 150 support servers and more than 500 agents from the National Drug Control Directorate and members of the Ministry of Defense, and having the proper judicial orders, proceeded to arrest… the main leaders of the criminal network,” Rodríguez said.
“To enter and launder the illicit money obtained from drug trafficking, ‘César the Abuser’ also created a complicated corporate framework to disguise the origin of his fortune, also using numerous individuals from his family and social circle to hide his assets, including two sports figures of the Dominican Republican,” Dominican authorities said in a news release.
Authorities raided 15 nightclubs, 10 restaurants, three shopping malls and more than 20 luxury apartment buildings in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, where Dotel was born, baseball writer Antonio Puesán tweeted.
“Among them, one in the Blue Tower building, where former baseball player David Ortiz also has one of those properties,” he added.
Retired Red Sox legend “Big Papi” Ortiz was seriously wounded in a June shooting at a Dominican Republic nightclub by a would-be drug cartel assassin from Paterson who was trying to kill another man, according to Dominican authorities.
The alleged gunman 25-year-old Rolfi Ferreira-Cruz, remained in custody in the Dominican Republic on attempted murder charges. He also faces federal charges in New Jersey.
The US Treasury Department participated in the drug cartel takedown, freezing the assets of Peralta and others (not including Dotel and Castillo) after designating them “significant foreign narcotics traffickers.”
Dotel broke into Major League Baseball with the Mets in 1999 and became a premier relief pitcher during a 15-year career with 13 different teams. He finished his career 59-50, with a 3.78 ERA.
Castillo had his best seasons with the Miami (then Florida) Marlins, before playing for the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and in Flushing, where many Mets fans remember him dropping an easy pop fly to give the Yankees a Subway Series regular-season win in 2009.
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