Posted on: November 25, 2022, 09:28h.
Last updated on: November 25, 2022, 11:24h.
It didn’t take long for authorities in the Dominican Republic to realize something was wrong with a lottery draw last year. It immediately dropped the hammer on 11 people But getting the trial going has been difficult, until now.
The trial of the perpetrators in what was dubbed Operation 13 will begin on December 20. Last March, the Public Ministry presented a formal accusation against the 11, accusing them of fraud in a National Lottery draw.
The group reportedly rigged a May 2021 draw that enabled its members to steal around $8.5 million. However, from the start, there were indications of something odd and who may have been behind the crime.
Heads Roll From The Top Down
Former National Lottery administrator Luis Maisichell Dicent helped orchestrate the lottery scam. He, along with several coconspirators, have been in detention since then to ensure they didn’t try to flee.
In addition, four codefendants with lesser roles received house arrest for their involvement. Three others have been on bond, but have had to report periodically and were prohibited from leaving the country.
One other coconspirator will face trial in absentia. Leonidas “Nazareth” Medina Arvelo was allegedly one of the top organizers alongside Dicent, but fled the country immediately after the fraudulent draw.
All 11 face charges of fraud, money laundering, bribery, corruption and breach of trust. They could receive prison sentences of up to 15 years, depending on the role they played. In addition, financial penalties are likely.
DR Cleans Up Gambling
The Dominican Republic is trying to restore the public’s faith in the lottery. It also wants to clean up its gambling industry in general. It has launched a crackdown on illegal lottery sales and betting parlors, shutting down unlicensed operations.
To show that it’s serious, the government recently raided and closed a number of illegal gambling parlors. In doing so, it also confiscated a number of gambling machines and announced that it would destroy all of them.
It has upheld that promise. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Judicial District of the province of Duarte, together with the National Police and local officials, crushed at least 96 slot machines this week with a bulldozer.
The head prosecutor of Duarte, Smaylin Rodriguez, reported that officials confiscated the slot machines during different raids carried out simultaneously in the province. The public demolition of the slots was to show that the government is serious about eradicating illegal gambling in the country.
The officials stressed that the operations were successful thanks to the commitment of both residents and neighborhood and community organizations. He added that a concerted effort by more people is leading to more warnings and raids across the country.