US requests extradition of former Navy captain

  • Former officer Rafael Heriberto Almonte Reyes will go on trial in the Northern District of Georgia
SANTO DOMINGO. The Embassy of the United States sent the Attorney General three requests for extradition against former Navy captain Rafael Heriberto Almonte Reyes, also known as "El Gordo", who is tied to an money laundering organization and drug trafficking in the US.

The network of drug traffickers of which Almonte Reyes is supposedly a member since 2005, extends to Central America, Europe, North and South America.

Almonte Reyes was arrested after the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) accepted a request from the Attorney General that requested the fusion of the three requests for extradition.

One of the files places Almonte Reyes together with the former Navy lieutenant Carlos Rosso Peña, former Navy major Miguel Antonio Suarez Silfa and other military personnel whose last names are Rodriguez and Gonzalez.

The diplomatic note, Number 313 details the spectacular role played by the former officer in the underworld. It says that Almonte Reyes is sought for trial in the Northern District of Georgia for money laundering and other crimes.

The document cites the fact that on 21 January 2009 he was accused together with 16 other associates by a Federal Grand Jury in the Southern District of Georgia, where three charges were drawn up: money laundering, willful association for the purpose of distributing cocaine and other controlled substances and private financial transactions in order to launder earning from the distribution of cocaine.

The file establishes that Almonte was a member of the Black Market Press Exchange (BMPE) that is an illegal and unregulated system for money laundering based on the business that allows Colombian money exchange dealers to change United States dollars and Colombian pesos for the dealers and drug exporters that want to by United States currency.

"The drug traffickers that have a lot of United States currency obtained through the sale of drugs in the United States are able to exchange dollars for local currency".

Based on the information offered, secret agents were able to identify the individuals that were working with Almonte Reyes as he carried out money laundering operations.

The diplomatic note explained that since February 2005 until 21 January of this year, the former military officer was involved in laundering money through the BMPE.

He coordinated with a confidential source to pick up large amounts of dollars in Puerto Rico and the United States, cash from drug sales.

The members involved handed over the cash to secret agents that transported and deposited the money in bank accounts in the United States, including Atlanta, Georgia.

Almonte Reyes gave instructions on how to launder the funds, which were picked up on telephone conversations, faxes, in on-line chat rooms and e-mails. He established pick ups and deposits-in bank accounts-of laundered money with co-conspirators in Panama.

In Puerto Rico

Diplomatic note 57 describes Almonte Reyes as being sought for trial in the Federal District Court in Puerto Rico, where on 31 January 2007 an arrest warrant was issued and on 6 January, Judge Carmen C. Cerezo issued a bench warrant to request the extradition of the accused.

In April 2006 the authorities received the information that Almonte was the head of an organization that imported and sold hundreds of kilograms of cocaine in Puerto Rico. They began to monitor conversations between Almonte and a cooperating witness, during one of which he said that he was planning to send a cocaine shipment from Colombia to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

According to the United States accusation, Almonte also stated that his cousin, Guillermo Peralta Tavares, was a representative of the drug business in Puerto Rico.

On the 26 and 27 April 2006, the authorities watched a series of meetings with Peralta Tavares during which he told a collaborating witness that Almonte was sending him shipments of cocaine to the island and giving him instructions on how to distribute it.

On 21 May 2006, the corroborating witness met with Almonte in the Dominican Republic to discuss the purchase of 200 kilos of cocaine and the authorities observed the meeting. "Almonte said he would pay US$13,000 a kilo for a total of US$2,600,000, and he wanted the drugs delivered to New York".

+ Leídas