Dominican Republic Drags Feet on Investigating Narco’s Claims

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The Dominican Republic Attorney General’s Office said there are no plans to investigate allegations that a convicted drug trafficker financed the campaign of a former president, the latest chapter in a long-running saga that has been illustrative of the depth of corruption in the country. 

Last week, Quirino Paulino Castillo — one of the Dominican Republic’s most notorious drug traffickers — said that he lent former President Leonel Fernandez around $4.5 million. He also said that he wrote Fernandez a letter demanding repayment of a $222,000 loan.

Fernandez, who served as the Dominican Republic’s president twice, has denied the claims. The country’s attorney general has now said that he “cannot tell at this point if we will start an investigation,” according to Diario Libre. He added that Dominican authorities would not look into Paulino’s claims unless they received supporting evidence from US counterparts suggesting that such a tie between Paulino and the ex-president exists. 

Paulino was extradited to the United States in 2005 after being arrested with 1.3 tons of cocaine that was en route to the US. He was released from prison last year, but still resides in the United States.

InSight Crime Analysis

Why Paulino is coming forward now and making claims of corruption against Fernandez nearly 10 years after his arrest and extradition to the US is somewhat of a mystery.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Dominican Republic

Some have said Paulino is simply trying to smear those who were responsible for dismantling his criminal organization and confronting Dominican organized crime. Paulino, on the other hand, claims that the economic situation of his family is desperate, and that he needs back the money he allegedly lent to Fernandez. Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic attorney general’s office has made it clear that for now, they don’t intend to probe too deeply into his allegations. 

While the claims of a convicted drug trafficker against those responsible for his downfall understandably lack standing, they are not beyond the realm of belief. Paulino previously served as an army captain, and made donations to several political campaigns and causes in the Dominican Republic before his arrest in 2004.  

The Dominican Republic has long struggled with corruption, and the country’s illegal transnational drug trade has badly corroded public institutions. Indeed, it may be that the final chapter of the Paulino saga has yet to be written, and his allegations against Fernandez may yet prove to hold weight.

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