Washington Post News Service
Dominican authorities accused two former Major League Baseball players of complicity in drug trafficking on Tuesday following a government operation targeting a major drug trafficking and money laundering network.
Officials arrested former MLB pitcher Octavio Dotel during coordinated raids on suspected members of the crime ring led by César Emilio Peralta, Dominican newspaper Diario Libre reported. Former infielder Luis Castillo was also implicated in the drug trafficking operation, though it remains unclear whether he, too, was detained.
At a news conference Tuesday, the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General, Jean Alain Rodríguez, described the players as front men for the drug ring, according to Diario Libre.
The sweep that preceded the announcement marked the “largest operation against organized crime ever conducted in the country,” a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said. It included searches of nightclubs, restaurants, shopping centers and apartments connected to Peralta in the National District, Santiago and La Romana, Diario Libre reported.
It’s unclear precisely what charges Dotel is facing. Dotel, who is Dominican, played for 13 major league baseball teams over the course of his 15-year career. He was part of the St. Louis Cardinals team that won the World Series in 2011, and he won a World Baseball Classic in 2013. The pitcher retired in 2013.
Also from the Dominican Republic, Castillo is a three-time all-star and Golden Glove winner who won the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003. He most recently played for the New York Mets, before retiring in 2010.
Castillo denied the allegations on his Instagram account, according to The Associated Press. “The truth is my country no longer works, my God, do you think that after making millions of dollars in Baseball I am going to dirty my hands with drugs?” Castillo reportedly wrote.
The post no longer appears on his account.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department also identified Peralta and his crime network as “significant foreign narcotics traffickers.” The department accused eight Dominican nationals and six Santo Domingo establishments of involvement in the drug trafficking and money laundering ring, including several nightclubs owned by Peralta.
The U.S. assets of those named will be frozen, and U.S. regulations typically bar anyone in the country from dealing with blacklisted foreign individuals and entities.
Dotel and Castillo were not included on the list.
“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,” Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a news release. “Treasury is targeting these Dominican drug kingpins, their front persons, and the nightclubs they have used to launder money and traffic women.”
The release describes Peralta as having a “lengthy criminal record” and alleges that he has coordinated the shipment of tons of cocaine and “significant quantities” of opioids to the United States and Europe. The organization launders the proceeds through nightclubs controlled by Peralta or his front men, according to the statement.
Tuesday’s sweep comes two months after MLB star David Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republic in an apparent case of mistaken identity.