Octavio Dotel, Luis Castillo -- ex-MLB stars -- linked to Dominican Republic drug trafficking ring: reports
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Octavio Dotel and infielder Luis Castillo -- each of whom played 15 seasons and won a World Series ring -- were implicated in connection with a major drug ring in the Dominican Republic, officials said in a Tuesday news conference announcing a sweep targeting a drug-trafficking and money-laundering network.
Dotel, 45, a reliever who pitched for a then-record 13 teams, and Castillo, 43, a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, were among 18 people linked to notorious drug trafficker Cesar Emilio Peralta, Dominican Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said in a news release.
"Cesar Emilio Peralta and his criminal organization have used violence and corruption in the Dominican Republic to traffic tons of cocaine and opioids into the United States and Europe," said Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for the Treasury Department's Terrorism and Financial Intelligence division.
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"Treasury is targeting these Dominican drug kingpins, their front persons, and the nightclubs they have used to launder money and traffic women. Treasury is targeting these Dominican drug kingpins, their front persons, and the nightclubs they have used to launder money and traffic women," Mandelker added.
Hundreds of drugs agents, prosecutors, government officials, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI participated in large searches related to Peralta. He remained at large at the time of the announcement.
Rodriguez's' office called it the “largest operation against organized crime” in the country, saying Peralta operated the ring in a mafia-like structure.
Arrested were high-ranking members Baltazar Mesa, José Jesús Tapia Pérez, and Sergio Gómez Díaz. Dotel also was arrested, but it wasn't clear Tuesday what charges he might be facing.
Rodríguez said the members of the ring used the Dominican Republic as a jumping-off point to traffick drugs to the U.S. and South America.
“To enter and launder the illicit money obtained from drug trafficking, César El Abusador also created a complicated corporate framework to disguise the origin of his fortune, also using numerous individuals belonging to his family and social circle to hide his assets, including 2 sports figures of the Dominican Republic that we will present to you," the news release stated.
Rodriguez did not specify what role investigators believed Dotel and Castillo had in the drug operation.
Castillo's lawyer, Alan Wilmot, denied his client had been among those arrested after reports circulated that he was taken into police custody. Darren Heitner, the lead attorney for Wilmot's firm, tweeted the ex-ball player was in the U.S. with his family.
He disputed whether Castillo had been accused of anything since he didn't have contact with law enforcement, the New York Post reported.
Dotel pitched from 1999-2013, racking up at least 16 saves on three occasions, including a 36-save season for Houston and Oakland in 2004. He also played for the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals.
He earned his World Series ring as a member of the Cardinals in 2011.
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Castillo played for the Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins and the Mets, exclusively playing second base. While with the Marlins, he led all of baseball in stolen bases with 62 in 2000 and 48 bags swiped in 2002.
The next season, he was part of the Marlins second World Series winner, helping the upstart Florida squad beat the Yankees in six games.