‘Drug Gang’ Attacks on Dominican Republic Journalist Highlight Organized Crime Threat

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A recent series of attacks against a journalist in the Dominican Republic illustrates the tactics used to silence those investigating the drug trade in the country, where international criminal organizations have been increasing their presence.

On June 30, gunmen fired on journalist Pedro Fernandez’s car as he drove through the town of San Francisco de Macoris, Reporters Without Borders reported. The incident came days after attackers threw tear gas bombs into Fernandez’s home, leaving a message threatening to kill him if he did not stop “attacking” drug sales points in the city. On both occasions, the journalist escaped unharmed.

Fernandez — who is a correspondent for El Nacional newspaper and a TV producer — has received death threats since he reported on drug sales points in San Francisco de Macoris and the murder of 12 people, reported Acento. Fernandez announced in January that he was the target of an assassination plot.

Authorities have claimed the attacks against Fernandez are the result of a debt his son owes the drug trafficker Julio Paula Grullon Paula, alias “Yuyo.” Fernandez rejected this claim, accusing the police and the Attorney General’s Office of collaborating with drug traffickers. 

InSight Crime Analysis

A source in the Dominican Republic consulted by InSight Crime said the recent attacks against Fernandez were thought to be carried out by local groups working on behalf of transnational organizations with operations in the country.

The nation has seen a sharp increase in cocaine seizures in recent years, and there is evidence that transnational drug trafficking organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel, have established operations in the country.

Local gangs have reportedly forged ties with these transnational groups, and some appear to be adopting tactics typical of more sophisticated organizations, such as the intimidation of judicial authorities and attacks on journalists.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Dominican Republic

In 2011, journalist Jose Agustin Silvestre was kidnapped and murdered after reporting on ties between drug traffickers and a local businessman, according to reports.

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