Drug pipeline from Santo Domingo to Miami and New York

Coast Guardsmen offload bales of cocaine and marijuana at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Fla., Sept. 29, 2015. The drugs were seized in three separate interdictions in the Caribbean Sea.
Coast Guardsmen offload bales of cocaine and marijuana at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Fla., Sept. 29, 2015. The drugs were seized in three separate interdictions in the Caribbean Sea. Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Bar U.S. Coast Guard District 7

By Alfonso Chardy

The recent arrest by FBI agents of a New York man in Miami may unravel a drug-trafficking connection involving suspects in the Dominican Republic, South Florida and New York.

Ivan Leonardo Silva, the 32-year-old defendant, has been charged with possession with intent to distribute drugs as part of an investigation in which an FBI informant and an undercover officer set him up in a sting operation.

Besides possibly uncovering a Santo Domingo-Miami-New York drug pipeline, the case also underscores the severity of the growing heroin presence in the U.S. narcotics market, particularly in the New York area. In mid-September, for example, authorities in New York announced the disruption of a heroin-trafficking ring in an investigation that resulted in the arrest of 23 people in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Coast Guard personnel last week offloaded in Miami Beach about 1,100 kilos of cocaine and 4,420 pounds of marijuana seized in the Caribbean with an estimated wholesale value of $41 million.

Some of the marijuana was seized after a go-fast vessel was intercepted on Sept. 20 southeast of Isla Saona, Dominican Republic.

“We have to keep these drugs from penetrating our borders,” said Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, deputy chief of law enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. “More importantly, we have to get after the organized criminal networks that fuel the violence and instability in the Western Hemisphere.”

The Silva case in Miami was outlined in a criminal complaint filed in federal court by an FBI agent on Sept. 4. An FBI spokesman said the agency could not comment on the case because it was still under investigation.

The complaint says Silva was introduced by telephone to an FBI confidential source and during the conversation the two agreed to meet in Miami.

Five days later, on Aug. 4, Silva traveled to Miami and the confidential source and an undercover officer picked him at Miami International Airport.

Silva then told the informant and the undercover officer that he began purchasing heroin in 2007 for about $58,000 per kilo but that the supply had dried up in the last nine months because of several drug seizures, according to the complaint.

The defendant also indicated that he had reached out to Miami because an associate in the Dominican Republic told him that he could obtain heroin here and that he had between $100,000 and $150,000 available for a drug purchase, according to the complaint.

It also said that Silva claimed he sold heroin for between $63,000 and $65,000 per kilo in New York and that he had a red 2007 Jeep Cherokee with a hidden compartment in the back to conceal drug loads. The sale of cocaine also was discussed, according to the complaint.

Satisfied with the meeting, Silva returned to New York ostensibly to secure the money to buy the drugs in Miami and promised to return soon, the complaint says.

By Sept. 3, Silva was back in South Florida staying at a Hampton Inn in Tamarac. Silva was arrested after he showed the undercover officer and the informant bundles of cash in his truck’s hidden compartment and received a load of cocaine from the undercover officer, the complaint said. He refused to talk to investigators after he was read his Miranda rights.

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