He is known as the "Caribbean's Pablo Escobar" although his nickname in the criminal world is "Junior Capsula". Nevertheless, he is the most wanted man in the Dominican Republic and he is Puerto Rican.
For the past ten years he has managed to evade the police in such incredible ways that his movie-like escapades make him almost legendary.
The hunt for alleged narc boss José Figueroa Agosto has intensified, after a police intervention located a laptop full of nicknames or alias, an entire float of luxury cars, and a house in the countryside that includes a private zoo, according to AP.
United States and Dominican authorities are on the prowl, looking for any clues that may lead them to the capture of the notorious drug lord.
Even Eric Holder, the Chief of Justice of the United States has personally pledged to utilize everything in his power to capture José Figueroa Agosto, who escaped from his jail cell in Puerto Rico, more than ten years ago. The US authorities filed an arrest order against Figueroa for the charges related to escaping from jail and for requesting a passport with false documentation. The fugitive also makes a list from a special US unit in charge of investigating the primary drug providers to the United States, affirmed by a Justice Department official, who agreed to an interview but required to be anonymous because of the nature of the investigation.
It is also believed that the 45-year-old drug lord, sends the drugs from Colombia to the Continental United States making his way through Puerto Rico, which is a US Territory and is also known as the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This seems to be attractive for the drug traffickers, because it is the most southern way in to the United States.
Puerto Rican politicians linked to Figueroa
Puerto Rico is also Figueroa's old base of operations where he cultivated his vast majority of contacts during his early years as a Narc.
This particular case has caused a great deal of attention in the island, because it was revealed that various politicians lobbied in Figueroas favor requesting a pardon from Puerto Rico's governor for a murder sentence he was serving in the nineties.
The island house speaker, Jennifer Gonzalez, had recommended the authorities to verify and investigate a possible connection between the fugitive and another official named Antonio Silva, who is a lawyer that claims to have done nothing illegal in this matter.
In 1999 Figueroa walked out of a Puerto Rican jail, when he presented false documentation to the guards. He had only served four out of the 209 years of his sentence for the death of a man that supposedly robbed him a load of cocaine.
In less than a month Figueroa made his way on to the Dominican Republic, where he was detained during a drug trafficking investigation back in 2001. After two weeks of the incident, he was back in the streets. During this time Figueroa used an alias so the authorities would not recognize who he was.
Wanted posters with the picture of Figueroa and his lover Sobeida Morel can be found almost everywhere throughout the Dominican Republic. Morel was detained just last year on money laundering charges. She paid her bail and disappeared before the police could tie her up with Figueroa.
Although it is still not possible to calculate how big Figueroa's drug empire really is, at the end of last year the Dominican police made an intervention in one of his high end apartments in Santo Domingo.
A special police unit, following specific leads given by the US authorities made its way into one of Figueroa's luxurious apartment. Once again the fugitive eluded the police by foot, but they managed to shoot at one of his vehicle tires. Figueroa left behind several car keys including those to a Mercedes Benz that contained the substantial amount of 4.6 million dollars in cash and a laptop filled with evidence.
The police operation brought up new leads on Figueroa's many false identities. Six of his properties have been confiscated, including an apartment in the popular vacation area of Puerto Plata worth one million dollars and a country-styled house located in Santo Domingo, where the authorities found a private zoo and nine vehicles including two Ferraris.
But Figueroa is still nowhere to be found.
For many years he would hide in plain view, often creating networks with celebrities and the Dominican elite. Since September's intervention at least five people have been incarcerated with money laundering charges or in one way or another collaborating with Figueroa.
Investigators fear they might find government officials and police officers within Figueroas many allies'. On December 30th a man claiming to be Figueroa called the most popular radio program in the Dominican Republic to claim that on the 2009 intervention, the Dominican police agreed to let him escape in exchange for one million dollars. He even went on to say that police coronel Jose Amado Gonzalez, coordinated the payment. The official died a week before the notorious phone call.
The police reaffirms that Gonzalez died in a street fight, but many still doubt this and believe that indeed he was assassinated by other policemen because of the money Figueroa paid for his escape.
United States and Dominican officials believe that the man who called the radio show was most likely Figueroa. During a second radio interview the fugitive offered $800,000 dollars to anyone that kills one of the Chiefs of the Dominican police.
According to the Dominican Justice Department, every police unit is being investigated on suspicion of involvement with drug trafficking.
Ricardo Ivanovich Smester, who is allegedly Figueroa's accountant, was detained on January 8th. An accounting book that had specific details on how two million dollars where spent in just two days during the month of October was confiscated. Within his expenses there are payments of $175,000 which are believed to have been used to bribe a judge and a prosecutor.
During a meeting celebrated last month in Brazil, the Secretary of State of the United States and the minister of Justice for the Dominican Republic, Radhames Jimenez, insisted that Figueroas case is a priority. Eric Holder has promised that the United States agencies will help in every possible way in which they may be needed.
This past month there where many eyewitness reports that Figueroa was seen in Puerto Rico close to where his family resides, in a Bayamon suburb, but it is still unconfirmed.
"We are verifying everything that comes up in relation with this individual", said Rafael Escobar.
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