June 23, 2015 / 6:02 PM / 4 years ago

Ex-Dominican anti-drug official gets U.S. prison time for drug scheme

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former top official of the Dominican Republic’s main counter-drug agency was sentenced on Tuesday to four years in a U.S. prison after pleading guilty to conspiring with drug traffickers to transport cocaine into the United States.

Francisco Hiraldo-Guerrero, who was once chief of operations for the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge John Keenan in Manhattan to forfeit more than $1 million.

Keenan said the authorities got “significant cooperation” from Hiraldo-Guerrero and that he would receive credit for the time spent in U.S. custody since his April 2013 extradition. But Keenan said a further period of incarceration was warranted.

“The types of crimes he committed are inexcusable,” Keenan said.

At his July 2014 plea hearing, Hiraldo-Guerrero admitted that he provided information to two drug dealer groups in the Dominican Republic to aid them in importing large amounts of cocaine.

The schemes to distribute drugs in the United States ran from 1999 to 2010, prosecutors said. During that time, Hiraldo-Guerrero accepted $1 million in bribes from drug dealers to keep them informed about Dominican Republic law enforcement activities, Keenan said at Tuesday’s hearing.

“As a man, I admit and acknowledge that I violated the laws, and as a consequence, any violation incurs a penalty,” Hiraldo-Guerrero said in court through a translator.

It was unclear the extent of the cooperation provided to the authorities by Hiraldo-Guerrero, who had pleaded guilty to narcotics conspiracy charges.

A letter by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office detailing that cooperation was sealed, and in an unusual move the transcript of Tuesday’s hearing was also sealed after it concluded.

Both Jeffrey Cohn, Hiraldo-Guerrero’s lawyer, and Bharara’s office declined to comment.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr

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