Ex-MLB players Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo linked to Caribbean drug ring

The former World Series champs are linked to "one of the most important drug trafficking structures in the Caribbean."
Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo.
Luis Castillo and Octavio Dotel.

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By Doha Madani

Former World Series champions Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo were named Tuesday as part of "one of the most important drug trafficking structures in the Caribbean region," according to the Dominican Republic's attorney general.

Castillo and Dotel, both originally from the Dominican Republic, were implicated along with 16 others in an operation to shut down a drug ring run by César Emilio Peralta, according to a press release from Attorney General of the Dominican Republic Jean Alain Rodríguez.

Members of the ring allegedly used the Dominican Republic as a bridge for the transit and illicit entry of drugs to the United States from South America. Peralta, also known as César El Abusador, allegedly created a mafia-like organization.

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“To enter and launder the illicit money obtained from drug trafficking, César El Abusador also created a complicated corporate framework to disguise the origin of his fortune, also using numerous individuals belonging to his family and social circle to hide his assets, including 2 sports figures of the Dominican Republic that we will present to you," the press release stated.

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Tuesday's operation included more than 700 people from multiple agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Dominican Republic's National Drug Control Directorat.

Authorities arrested a handful of allegedly high-ranking members of the ring, Baltazar Mesa, José Jesús Tapia Pérez, and Sergio Gómez Díaz. The attorney general's office said that these men are facing possible extradition to the United States.

Dotel was also arrested in the Dominican Republican, but the attorney general's office did not specify what charges he might face.

Contrary to initial reports that Castillo was arrested in the Tuesday operation, his lawyer issued a statement clarifying that the former MLB player was in the United States with his family. It is unclear whether authorities will pursue charges against Castillo in the case.

Castillo enjoyed a 15-year MLB career, playing for the then-Florida Marlins, New York Mets and Minnesota Twins. His 2003 Marlins team won the World Series.

But he might be best known for one play — when he dropped a pop-up in a Mets-Yankees game in 2009. His error, in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, cost the Mets a win and gave the Yankees a most improbable victory.

Dotel’s 15-year MLB career included stints with 12 different teams, though he and Castillo were never teammates. His best years were a four-and-a-half-season stint with the Houston Astros from 2000 to 2004.

Dotel appeared in two World Series, in 2012 for the Detroit Tigers and 2011 for the St. Louis Cardinals, when he pitched two-thirds of an inning in Game 7 for the winning Cards.

CORRECTION (Aug. 20, 2019, 5:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article switched the pictures of two former MLB players who were arrested. Octavio Dotel is on the left, and Luis Castillo is on the right, not the other way around.

CORRECTION (Aug. 20, 2019, 7:32 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the legal action involving Luis Castillo. Castillo was named by the attorney general of the Dominican Republic as being linked to the drug network, but was not arrested.

David K. Li contributed.