Local May 23, 2013 | 7:39 am

Dominican Republic busts network possibly linked to foreign terrorists

Santo Domingo.- The National Investigations Department (DNI) arrested members of a people trafficking network with possible links to international terrorist cells, who used Dominican Republic as a bridge from Cuba, France, Spain, Sri Lanka and Haiti.

DNI chief operating officer Fidel Paulino identified the Sri Lankan- Canadian Karunanithy Nallathamby as the group’s leader, arrested in Sosua, Puerto Plata, while Kanthaany Siresh or Sriram Kannan, and Ganesh Mahenderan, or David Kristen and Kohulan Selvarasa, were detained in a house where they had hidden during two months.

The DNI said Nallathamby had stolen original passports from a passport office in Canada to alter them and sell to Indian nationals who entered Dominican territory along the border with Haiti.

In a press conference on Wednesday, the official said Nallathamby had been operating in the country during eight months, but came and went regularly to Canada where he came with four and five passports called "machetes" according to his own statements.

Paulino said the preliminary information shows that the network ‘s leader managed to smuggled more than 60 people into the country, mostly from the Middle East, whose whereabouts are being investigated. "They were then taken to Sosua where they stayed two months and then was sent to the United States and Canada via the various airport terminals in the country, particularly through Las Americas International Airport."

He said the head of the network trafficked persons to the United States and Europe, with criminal cases pending in their home country using Dominican Republic as a bridge.

He said to enter Dominican territory, network members Siresh, Ganesh and Selvarasa used the Sri Lanka-France route, then to Haiti, and from there to this nation, while the Sri Lankan Karunanithy went to Spain, from there to Cuba and then Dominican Republic via Haiti, and once in the country, to Sosua, Puerto Plata.

"The variation of this route is because the members of this network at all times sought to throw off Dominican Republic’s security and immigration agencies," Paulino said.

The authorities reportedly want to know if the network had any links or accomplices in the military services at the border and the airports.

Paulino added that last September Siresgh tried to leave the country via the Puerto Plata Aiport, using the forged passport JG495041, registered to the Canadian Tulsie Ran Budhran, but evaded and to escape from the agents.

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