Dominican Confidential: Who Killed Muckraking Reporter Jose Silvestre?

It is a tale of the killing of a muckraking journalist on a crusade to expose links between drug traffickers, public officials and businessmen in the Dominican Republic.

A resort owner is suspected of orchestrating the killing of a Dominican journalist José Silvestre, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Hotel owner Matias Avelino Castro wanted to prevent journalist José Silvestre from publishing a planned story that linked Avelino to a murder and drug trafficking, Deputy Attorney General Frank Soto said at a news conference.

The investigation also found Avelino sought revenge against Silvestre for past articles in his weekly newspaper, The Voice of the Truth, and reports on a radio program with the same name, said Máximo Baez, a police spokesman.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Avelino but his whereabouts are unknown, authorities said.

Soto said Avelino owns the Gran Aparta Hotel Las Galeras on the Samaná Peninsula. A woman who answered the phone at the hotel said she did not know anyone by that name and hung up.

Police have detained one suspect in the killing, who told investigators Silvestre was shot to death when the suspect and three other men tried to force the journalist into an SUV on Aug. 2 in the city of La Romana. His body was found later on a roadside about 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Santo Domingo.

Authorities say they have recovered the vehicle used in the crime and found Silvestre's blood inside. The vehicle was apparently rented by a girlfriend of Avelino, who is also known by the name Joaquin Espinal Almeyda, said Héctor García Cuevas, director of investigations for the Dominican police.

The case has drawn attention from groups such Amnesty International because of Silvestre's role as a muckraking journalist, known for reporting unsourced allegations of drug trafficking and corruption in this Caribbean country that has become a major transit point for drugs bound for the U.S. and Europe.

Soto said investigators have testimony from three people that Silvestre was paid to publish some of his allegations. He said he had no information on the validity of the allegations about Avelino that Silvestre apparently planned to publish.

Silvestre was detained for six days earlier this year when a prosecutor sued him for defamation over accusations of taking bribes from drug traffickers. The case was still outstanding at the time of Silvestre's death.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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