Alleged Dominican narco-trafficker Rosa Ureña extradited to U.S.

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The recent extradition of alleged narco-trafficker a, known as “El Gato,” is the latest sign of cooperation between the Dominican and U.S. authorities in building cases against international drug-smuggling rings.

Rosa Ureña was arrested in July 2011 in the Dominican Republic as part of an operation that dismantled a major criminal network with ties to Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers, including the Sinaloa cartel.

Rosa allegedly was involved in bringing shipments of cocaine into Massachusetts, Dominican authorities said.

His extradition was the latest sign of cooperation between the Dominican and U.S. authorities in building cases against international drug-smuggling rings. Dominican courts have authorized the extradition of several suspected criminals wanted by the U.S. in recent years. On Jan. 14, the National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) announced it had captured Emerson Guzmán, who was wanted for extradition by prosecutors in New York’s Southern District on drug distribution charges.

Rosa and his attorney had tried to evade extradition through legal maneuvers, including arguing that his lengthy pre-extradition detention violated his rights. On Jan. 3, Supreme Court justices ordered his extradition.

“This person tried to prevent by all available means that the Supreme Court order his extradition, trying even to challenge members of justices of the Criminal Chamber,” said Roberto Lebrón, spokesman for the DNCD, which oversaw the operation during which Rosa was taken into custody. “All initiatives were rejected.”

He was flown out of the country under heavy security, guarded by agents from the DNCD and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In extradition, Rosa joined alleged accomplices Luis Fernando Bertolucci Castillo, known as “El Rey,” Marwan “El Turco” Chebli Chebli, José Antonio Contreras Reyes, known as “Pepe” and Leonel Gómez Guzmán.

The group was allegedly a key cog in an international drug trafficking operation that flew cocaine out of South America, utilizing the Dominican Republic and other transshipment points.

Authorities have said that the group’s accused leader, Bertolucci, was acting under orders from the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, including kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, considered the most world’s powerful drug trafficker by U.S. authorities.

Bertolucci was sentenced to 13 years in prison in a federal case in Miami last year. He will be eligible for release after five years because he is cooperating with prosecutors, according to court documents.

Taking down Bertolucci’s gang required cooperation between counter-narcotics agencies in the United States and Dominican Republic, Lebrón said.

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