Drugs Seized from Yacht in the Dominican Republic

17 November 2015

Police seized more than 280 pounds of cocaine and 22 poundsof heroin during a raid on a villa and the 135-foot, Bahamas-flagged yacht The Kingdom docked behind it, located inthe Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic, according to reports.

Both the yacht and villa are allegedly owned by FranciscoFlores de Freitas, the nephew of Venezuela’s first lady, Cilia Flores. Flores deFreitas, 30, was arrested along with Flores’ other nephew, Efrain Antonio CampoFlores, 29, last Tuesday in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince forreportedly conspiring to smuggle cocaine, say reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the arrest came afterthe two contacted an undercover U.S. agent about selling 1,763 pounds (800kilograms) of cocaine through Honduras. According to the New York Times, theylater met with the DEA informant in Venezuela and provided a kilogram ofcocaine as a sample. U.S. agents were reportedly able to make video andaudiotapes of at least one of the encounters.

The two men were promptly extradited to the U.S., where theyappeared before a federal judge in New York that Thursday. They are currentlybeing held in New York without bail under one count of narcotics conspiracy.According to reports, they both have diplomatic passports but not diplomaticimmunity. Conviction carries a maximum life sentence in prison.

According to DominicanToday, six more people were arrested in conjunction with the conspiracy.Four were arrested on The Kingdom,and two more, who allegedly headed the operation, were arrested in an eatery inLa Romana, where the drugs were to be shipped to Miami.

Flores, 62, is highly influential in the Venezuelangovernment and is running in Venezuela’s elections scheduled for next month.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task in New Yorkconducted the investigation, and Venezuela reportedly called on Venezuela’sNational Assembly to investigate the situation. President Nicolas Madura deemsthe allegations false and claims they’re a U.S. conspiracy to undermine hisgovernment, states The New York Times.

The next court date for Flores de Freitas and Campo Floresis set for December 2, 2015.

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