Francisco Hiraldo Guerrero

The Dominican Republic will extradite retired general and former high-level anti-drug official Francisco Hiraldo Guerrero to the United States, where he is charged with drug trafficking.

Hirando Guerrero was arrested October 31 in the Dominican Republic and was being held in a maximum security cell.  Prior to his retirement in 2009, Hiraldo Guerrero worked for the National Drug Control Agency (Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas - DNCD) for more than 14 years, including serving as director of operations from 2006 to 2008, reports 7 Dias.

The former anti-narcotics official is accused of having knowingly allowed large shipments of cocaine move in and out of the country between 2001 and 2009. According to El Dia, following the arrest and subsequent extradition of Dominican Republic cocaine kingpin Quirino Ernesto Paulino, Hiraldo Guerrero, who partipated in the DNCD's investigation of Paulino, allegedly kept the criminal structure running along with Paulino's associates. Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito said following Hiraldo Guerrero's arrest that authorities have not ruled out the involvement of other top anti-drug and military officials.

Reuters reports that according to one witness, between 2007 and 2009 alone Hiraldo Guerrero received up to $2.5 million in "protection fees" for allowing 25 400-kilogram shipments of cocaine to pass through the Dominican Republic.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Dominican Republic serves as a key transit point for cocaine heading from South America to the United States. US drug officials are increasingly concerned that the crackdown in Mexico and Central America has pushed traffickers back into the Caribbean.

That said, however, Dominican authorities have made steady progress against drug trafficking and organized crime. DNCD officials managed to reduce the number of drug-carrying flights from South America almost to zero as of 2011. This drop in drug flights was accompanied by a decrease in the share of cocaine that enters the US from the Dominican Republic, which fell from seven percent in 2010 to three percent in 2011.

The biggest challenge for the Dominican Republic is its endemic corruption, as the Hiraldo Guerrero case illustrates. According to Transparency International, in 2010 the Dominican Republic ranked even lower than Mexico and Guatemala in public perception of corruption among government officials.