Local February 4, 2013 | 11:00 am

Menendez scandal linked to Dominican Republic drug trafficking

Santo Domingo.- A prominent lawyer and friend of U.S senator Robert Menendez on Monday linked the ongoing investigation to drug trafficking and organized crime in Dominican Republic, the latest twist of an expanding scandal.

The attorney and political leader Vinicio Castillo Seman said “this is a case that has become a world scandal,” to defend Menendez and prominent Dominican eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

In a televised news conference on CDN 27, the son of the Presidency’s Antinarcotic Adviser Marino V. Castillo “Vincho” called “dirty and illicit” the allegations against Menendez. “I’ve been mentioned in a dirty and illicit absolutely false and calumny complaint on the FBI investigation into the use of minors or adult prostitutes.”

“I’ve known Menendez as a friend and of my cousin Salomon Melgen. No one has come forward on the allegations and evil accusations, we spend every Easter together in Casa de Campo,” Castillo said regarding the exclusive resort in La Romana, the country’s east region.

As to activities and parties on Melgen’s house, the attorney noted that isn’t a mansion or surrounded by walls as press reports depict it, “on the contrary, it is open toward a golf course for everybody to see.”

“The photo showing me with Melgen, Menendez, and Listin Diario (newspaper) editor in chief Miguel Franjul and democrat leader Leo Perez Minaya, it’s the only time I’ve taken part in a party with Menendez.

Organized crime link

Castillo noted that Menedez had headed the U.S. Senate’s antinarcotics committee, and that “It’s no secret that I am the son of the chief antinarcotics official.”

“Faced with the gravity of what has occurred we will file an criminal accusation against those who have published the calumny against me, Menendez, Melgen, in the dirty web campaign,” he said, and asked the FBI and DEA to assist Dominican Republic’s Web Crimes Agency (DICAT) on the alleged conspiracy he said includes false documents and statements, regarding the ongoing probe. “Cooperation between the FBI and DEA can clarify the sources and the motives behind the effort to tarnish the careers of Menendez; these are narco interest behind allegations.”

“It’s also about a conflict between powerful sectors in the country who oppose the scanning of containers by hi tech X-ray inspections which Dr. Melgen acquired from the Beauchamps Javier family,” stressing that Menendez had nothing to do with the Swiss company which originaly provided the service. “A U.S. company formed by ex officials and military leaders eventually obtained the contract.”

He said the lack of container inspections has led to an 800% increase in drug trafficking through Dominican ports. “It’s clear drug trafficking and its allies in Dominican Republic behind the campaign. It will be our unwavering effort to take those behind the dirty campaign to court.”

He said none of the containers headed to the U.S. from Dominican Republic are currently being inspected and “that’s what’s behind the media campaign.”

“Right now 4,000 containers pass through here, and no one can inspect anything,” he said, and reiterated his request for an expanded investigation

Castillo added that as part of his minority party’s (FNP) participation in current president Danilo Medina’s campaign, “We received Melendez and former Panama president Omar Torrijos in activities held at Casa de Campo.

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