The Dominican Republic initiates trial for "Operation Squid" corruption case, gaming authority accused.

Trial for "Operation Squid" fraud begins, where at least 20 people linked to Dominican gaming officials are charged with wrongdoing.

Jun 11, 2024
2 min read
Dominican Republic government officials are escorted to an appearance in court on corruption...
Dominican Republic government officials are escorted to an appearance in court on corruption charges. There are at least 20 people who may have played a role in the fraud.


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The Dominican Republic initiates trial for "Operation Squid" corruption case, gaming authority accused.

Several prominent government officials in the Dominican Republic, including the gambling regulator and two former casino managers, were apprehended this week as part of an anti-corruption operation nicknamed "Operation Squid." Around twenty individuals were taken to court on Tuesday.

Twenty of these accused individuals appeared in a crowded courtroom lately. They donned masks, helmets, and other safety equipment while in court. Soldiers escorted them as a precaution to prevent any violent confrontations.

These people are claimed to have been leading a scheme that embezzled over $350 million from the government. They have been charged with fraud, forging public and private documents, bribery, money laundering, and "unparalleled illegal campaign financing," according to the Attorney General's office.

Judge Kenya Romero temporarily delayed the proceedings after the defendants' attorneys filed a motion, asking for additional time to review the accusations.

The legal dossier includes 2,120 pages and 1,200 pieces of evidence, according to official court records. Prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso has requested an 18-month sentence.

Attorney General's office released a statement on Monday reporting that the National Police carried out raids at 40 locations on Saturday, leading to the arrest of these high-ranking officials.

The scandal erupted during Danilo Medina's tenure as president from 2012 to 2020. Medina himself is being investigated for corruption and unlawful enrichment.

In office since 2020, President Luis Abinader vowed to eradicate what he termed "deeply entrenched" public corruption.

Accused Individuals

Besides the gambling regulator and the two former casino managers, the following individuals have been charged as part of the Operation Squid case:

  • Former Minister of Public Works and Communications, Gonzalo Castillo
  • Administrative Minister of the Presidency, José Ramón Peralta (close ally of Medina)
  • Minister of Finance Donald Guerrero
  • Former Comptroller General of the Republic, Daniel Omar Caamaño
  • Former director of the State Sugar Council, Luis Miguel Piccirilo
  • Former director of the National Registry, Claudio Silver Peña
  • Economist Ángel Lockward

These named individuals are only a fraction of the individuals the public prosecutor accuses of corruption.

The former casino directors, Oscar Chalas Guerrero and Julián Omar Fernández, are also involved. Prosecutors have yet to clarify their roles in the case.

DR's Persistent Corruption

In a nation where soaring murder rates and different controversies have been persistent issues for years, some high-ranking figures in the DR have attempted to eradicate political corruption. Several scandals have emerged over the last decade, including those involving Medina and his family.

The Squid incident came nearly 16 months after a stagnation in anti-corruption actions taken by the Public Ministry. The last case presented was in November of the previous year, involving Medina's second-in-command of security, General Julio de los Santos Viola, and Juan Carlos Torres Robiou, the former head of the Specialized Tourist Security Corps.

Last year, the Dominican National Lottery faced a scandal due to allegations of a fixed lottery draw. In spite of what appears to be widespread fraud and government corruption, DR President Luis Abinader has not spoken out about the issue. He delivered a lengthy speech in late February that lasted over two hours, but there was no mention of the corruption or his desire to clean up the government during his speech.

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