November 20, 2003
Contact: SA Susan Wolf
Phone Number: (202) 305-8500
NINETEEN PERSONS INVOLVED IN A DOMINICAN BASED ORGANIZATION ARE INDICTED ON DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES
Washington, DC- The Washington Division Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in conjunction with the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Montgomery County Police Department, the Prince George's County Police Department and the Calvert County Police Department announced the culmination of a major investigation into the activities of a drug trafficking organization based in the Dominican Republic. This organization, which was headed by major international cocaine traffickers identified as Jose Arismendi ALMONTE-PENA and Mateo HOLGUIN-OVALLE, was responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of cocaine each month from South America to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean for distribution throughout the United States.
Washington DC and southern Maryland were major points of distribution for this organization. An indictment was issued by a Federal Grand Jury in the District of Columbia on September 24, 2003. This indictment alleges 19 defendants, including organization heads ALMONTE-PENA and HOLGUIN-OVALLE conspired to import cocaine into the United States in violation of the federal drug laws.
On November 11, 2003 teams of agents from the DEA, FBI, and other local agencies served 13 arrest warrants throughout Washington, DC and southern Maryland. These warrants were served simultaneously with raids in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. Several significant drug traffickers were arrested in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and are currently being held in those countries pending extradition to the United States.
Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Laura Nagel of the Washington Division Office stated that this operation, which was entitled "OPERATION CASO M", was particularly significant based upon the level of those charged as well as the degree of cooperation exhibited by the participating agencies. SAC Nagel stated that "not only were the top command and control members of this organization charged but the local distribution groups which directly impact the quality of life in our community". SAC Nagel further stated that the successful outcome of this investigation was only possible through the cooperation of DEA, FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office, local law enforcement, and agencies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. SAC Nagel particularly lauded the efforts of Major General Manuel Antonio Lachapelle-Suero of the Dominican Republic Direccion National de Control de Drogas, and those officers under his supervision, who were instrumental in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.
Local residents who have been indicted as the result of this investigation include the following:
Antoine Dupree RICHARDS, 28 years old, of Accokeek, MD; Clarence Elwood GASKINS, 37 years old, of Capital Heights, MD; Anthony Andrew RICE, 56 years old, of Washington, DC; Brian Keith ABRAHAM, 35 years old, of District Heights, MD; Roland BAILEY, of Silver Spring, MD; Miriam MARTE, 31 years old, of Washington, DC; Michael MARTE, of Washington, DC; Walter WEBB, 48 years old, of Upper Marlboro, MD; and Eric Johnson, 36 years old of Hyattsville, MD.