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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
March 10, 2004

For Information Contact:
Special Agent Waldo P. Santiago
DEA Public Information Officer

Mr. Orlando Rios-Walker
Deputy Public Information Officer
U.S. Attorney's Office

International Drug Trafficker Jose Arismeni Almonte-Peña Arrested in the Dominican Republic

MAR 10--H.S. García, United States Attorney, District of Puerto Rico, Jerome Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Samuel Santana, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that, on February 28, 2004, international drug trafficker José Arismendi Almonte-Peña was arrested in the Dominican Republic. The investigation of this alleged drug dealer began in 1998, when the FBI and DEA targeted the suspected narcotics smuggling activities of José Almonte-Peña’s drug trafficking organization, which allegedly moved multi-hundred kilogram shipments of cocaine into Puerto Rico and the continental United States from the Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands and South America and was believed to be one of the most prolific cocaine transportation and distribution organizations functioning in our region, according to court documents. This investigation was designated as an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. The multi-agency Special Operations Division coordinated the work of various domestic and international law enforcement officers and prosecutors, whose combined efforts contributed to the success of this case.

On September 24, 2003, a federal Grand Jury in Puerto Rico indicted Almonte-Peña , along with seven (7) additional co-defendants, on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, in violation of Title 21, Unites States Code, section 952 (a) and 963, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of Title 21, Unites States Code, section 841(a)(1) and Title 18, United States Code, section 2. The arrests of 25 of Almonte-Peña’s associates were made in Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., and Venezuela in November, 2003. Almonte-Peña eluded capture until his arrest on February 28.

Attorney General John Ashcroft made the following statement: “Today’s announcement marks a significant day in our efforts to plug the pipeline of drugs into our country. Mr. Almonte-Peña was a high-priority international target, and the significance of his capture cannot be understated. Not only is Mr. Almonte Peña now behind bars, but he joins 25 of his associates who already have been put in prison. I congratulate the DEA and FBI and the hard work of the many field agents who have helped bring Almonte-Peña and his associates to justice. I also want to commend the leaders in the Dominican Republic, as their assistance in this investigation has been a linchpin in our success.”

H.S. García, United States Attorney, District of Puerto Rico, expressed today his satisfaction for the capture of this international fugitive and assured the people of Puerto Rico that “ proceedings have begun in the Dominican Republic to extradite Almonte-Peña to the United States to stand trial in Puerto Rico for the crimes he has committed against our people.”

The charges contained in the indictment are mere allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law.

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