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Press Release

Foreign National Sentenced for Cocaine Trafficking

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A national of the Dominican Republic was sentenced yesterday to 15 years and four months in prison for his role in an international conspiracy to distribute 385 kilograms of cocaine for unlawful importation into the United States.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, from October 2016 through May 2019, Cesar Gomez Almonte, 51, participated in a drug trafficking network based in the Dominican Republic that transported cocaine from South America, through the Caribbean, to the United States. The drug trafficking network used vessels, such as sailing yachts and sport fishing boats, to transport the cocaine, often stopping in various Caribbean ports while transporting the cocaine to give a cover of legitimacy to each voyage. One of these vessels, the Casablanca, was interdicted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Marine Interdiction Unit in November 2018 as it entered U.S. waters near Key Biscayne, Florida. Officers boarded and searched the Casablanca, seizing more than 327 kilograms of cocaine.          

Gomez had several roles in the conspiracy. He brokered the use of the Casablanca by another drug trafficking network to send cocaine directly to the United States, and was involved in locating and purchasing vessels for use by the drug trafficking network to transport cocaine. Additionally, Gomez attempted to change the ownership of one of the network’s boats from one straw purchaser to another to disguise the true owners and possessors of the boat, which was used in a prior voyage to transport approximately 500 kilograms of cocaine. 

A federal jury in the District of Columbia convicted Gomez in November 2023 of conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine into the United States.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Executive Associate Director Katrina W. Berger of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.

The case is supported by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) and HSI’s El Dorado Task Force.

HSI New York and DEA New York investigated the case.

Acting Assistant Deputy Chief Melanie L. Alsworth and Trial Attorneys Samantha Thompson and Janet Turnbull of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section prosecuted the case. 

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance. The Justice Department thanks authorities in the Dominican Republic for their assistance in the investigation.

Updated May 16, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-616