Just over a week after Luis Castillo and Octavio Dotel headlined a list of suspects named in the Dominican Republic's recent drug trafficking bust, a local judge has cleared the retired MLB players of money laundering charges. Judge José Alejandro Vargas decided Thursday that the prosecution had failed to show enough evidence to implicate Castillo or Dotel.
Dotel was released on bail Thursday after nine days in detention. He still stands accused of possessing illegal weapons at the time he was arrested, a charge that was not directly connected to the drug bust. As he left the court hearing in Santo Domingo, the former pitcher flashed a quick smile for nearby members of the media.
Former MLB pitcher Octavio Dotel is free of charges. Judge couldn’t find any relationship with most wanted Dominican Kingpin Cesar El Abusador. pic.twitter.com/pBkL5cyZdD— Antonio Puesán (@antoniopuesan) August 29, 2019
In announcing the bust last week, the country's attorney general, Jean Alain Rodríguez, linked the two former major leaguers to an alleged drug kingpin named César Emilio Peralta, also known as "César the abuser." Peralta and his alleged network of drug runners and money launderers were the focus of the Dominican investigation — one that was supported by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration in the U.S.
The U.S. Treasury Department also moved to designate Peralta, his associates and several related entities, including several nightclubs, as "significant foreign narcotics traffickers." Dotel and Castillo were not on Treasury's list, however.
Dotel's attorney, Manuel Sierra, told ESPN Deportes that authorities owe his client a public apology — and that he expects nothing to come of the weapons charge. "We have the documentation that proves that it is not illegal," Sierra said, "and we will present it to the court in a timely manner."
"Octavio will finally sleep in his own bed after the nightmare of the last few days," he added.
Dotel played 14 years for 13 teams during his time in MLB. Castillo, an infielder, won three Gold Gloves, made three All-Star Games and took home the 2003 World Series with the then-Florida Marlins.