Local March 3, 2015 | 8:36 am

Country’s once powerful drug-trafficking duo still bask in wealth

Santo Domingo.- What once was Dominican Republic’s most powerful duo of drug traffickers, and whose net worth which could well exceed RD$600.0 million (US$133.3 million) wasn’t confiscated when arrested, were extradited to the US and later convicted.

Quirino Paulino was the chief and Bienvenido Ernesto Guevara Diaz (Maconi) was the deputy of a drug trafficking structure which smuggled at least 33,000 kilos of cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela to the US, displacing the country’s most notorious kingpin, the now defunct Rolando Florian Feliz.

When arrested December 18, 2004, just four months into the term of president Leonel Fernández, Paulino’s wealth exceeded RD$1.2 billion.

Guevara, Paulino’s "chief operating officer," was arrested five years later when his fortune was estimated at tens of millions of pesos. The two are so close that call each other "cuñao" (brother-in-law).

Guevara personally headed the failed transfer of the 1,387 kilos of cocaine which led to Paulino’s arrest, on taped phone conversations between the two on the morning of December 18, 2004.

Nonetheless Guevara managed to evade arrest at that time, because he was far from where the drug was confiscated just north of the capital on the Duarte highway.

Paulino’s arrest still fuels speculation that it took place to protect “big fish in Santiago,” since the drug was allegedly headed to a Free Zone company in that city, and the target of a wider US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation.

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