August 5, 2008 / 9:25 PM / 11 years ago

Bullet-riddled bodies found in Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - The bullet-riddled bodies of seven men were discovered on Tuesday along a drug-smuggling route south of the Dominican capital, authorities said.

Police said the victims, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, were found dumped with their hands tied together alongside a road near Ojo de Agua, a village about 40 miles (65 km) south of Santo Domingo.

One was identified as Jesus David del Rio, a 28-year-old Colombian. An eighth man, identified as a Nicaraguan citizen, suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach but managed to escape the gangland-style killing, a Dominican police report said.

The report said four of the victims were kidnapped by heavily armed gunmen in military-style camouflage uniforms who dragged them out of a house on Monday night in Banfi, near Ojo de Agua.

The kidnappers were later seen hauling several large bundles that they had removed from the back of a truck parked near the house, police said.

No arrests have been made. But officials with the government’s National Directorate for the Control of Drugs said the killings were believed to be a “settling of accounts” between rival narcotics traffickers.

They said the southern coastal region where the bodies were found is a popular drop-off point for cocaine smuggled out of South America en route to the United States.

The U.S. State Department ranks the Dominican Republic as a leading transshipment point for Colombian cocaine making its way to the United States and other markets overseas.

Reporting by Manuel Jimenez; Editing by Tom Brown and Doina Chiacu

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