Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

July 27–August 3, 2000

cover story

The Dominican Connection, part 2

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Haul of a good time: Drugs, weapons and cash seized by the Bastard Squad.

In 1995 a local narcotics squad warned the CIA that a Dominican political party was raising campaign funds in Philadelphia through sales of heroin and coke. Now the investigators’ careers are in ruins. What happened?

by Howard Altman and Jim Barry

First of a Two-Part Series

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On Oct. 26, 1995, Wilson Prichett wrote a confidential memo to John Sunderhauf, regional director of the BNI Philly office, about the PRD.

The memo stated that the BNI officers had stumbled onto something big.

Too big for them to handle by themselves.

"A recent incident has political implications which go far beyond Region IX’s responsibilities for investigation of narcotics trafficking," Prichett wrote.

Prichett wanted Sunderhauf to know the significance of the PRD and the Triunfo ’96 document obtained by McLaughlin.

"…it should be noted that the plan sets up a highly centralized, well disciplined political organization with a ‘Security’ Bureau consisting of an ‘Intelligence’ Department and a ‘Control of Events’ Department."

The plan, wrote Prichett, "indicates special interest in recruiting 300,000 Dominican voters in the U.S., which would include a substantial number in Philadelphia-Camden. Although it speaks at this point only to legal political activity, the P.R.D. Organization could readily be adapted to support a violent revolution in the Dominican Republic."

A revolution was only the beginning of Prichett’s concerns.

"PRD," he wrote, "could also use its U.S. branches, such as the Philadelphia-Camden Section, to raise campaign money by intensifying the present high level of Dominican activity in drug trafficking."

Prichett based his analysis on linking the dots between the man found with the PRD pamphlet, Daniel Croussett — a high-ranking official in the local PRD chapter — and his sister, Carmen, who was "allegedly a principal dealer for …a major Dominican distributor of heroin and cocaine.

According to Prichett’s memo, a confidential informant "reported that… organization brings kilos of narcotics from New York to Philadelphia several times a week in cars with concealed compartments. Daniel Croussett’s car had such a compartment, which was empty at the time he was stopped."

Prichett then advised Sunderhauf to see if they could get Carmen Croussett to dime out the PRD by providing "information on the PRD’s activities, and especially whether she could provide the true names and addresses of Dominican members in this area. That would be invaluable in screening them for either past drug activity or illegal alien status."

[The DA’s office dropped charges on May 28, 1996.]

The former CIA agent then closed out his letter by offering to go Sunderhauf one better in the effort to get some outside help.

By this point, Sunderhauf wanted to bring the FBI in "if the PRD is felt to be a threat to U.S. internal security."

Prichett had another idea.

"Since U.S. national security interests in the Caribbean area may also be involved, [the State Attorney General’s office] may feel it is appropriate to also brief the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA may already be aware of and have a covert interest in the PRD). I can provide an appropriate contact point if that would be useful."

Five days later, on Halloween 1995, BNI Regional Director John Sunderhauf fired off a short memo of his own, marked "Confidential" to his boss, Richard P. Miller, deputy bureau director of the BNI.

"As you will see, it appears this organization has an agenda to overthrow the Dominican Republic’s Government and it also appears that this organization is utilizing funds from illegal drug distribution to support its activities.

"I would recommend the Intelligent Unit get involved and the appropriate Federal Agency/s be notified about these documents."

For BNI, it was hurry up and wait. Meanwhile, The Bastard Squad continued acting on tips fed to them by "6’s."

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Haul of a good time: Drugs, weapons and cash seized by the Bastard Squad.

On Nov. 2, 1995, "6’s" provided a tip about an ’84 Olds parked on the 2900 block of North Ella Street that was used by Dominicans to store drugs and money. A consent search led to a hit by the K-9 dog Hans, who found a secret compartment in the driver’s side rear armrest that contained nearly $6,000. Four days later, the squad struck again, arresting Ramon Croussett, Daniel and Carmen’s brother, with an ounce of coke and nearly $3,000 in cash.

On Nov. 13, 1995, Wilson Prichett sat down once again with BNI and "6’s."

With Prichett sitting in the lieutenant’s office at the Essington Avenue headquarters, McLaughlin questioned the informant "6’s."

"Hola, Callahan," said the informant. "Como esta?"

Speaking via Harry Fernandez, McLaughlin asked "6’s" what he knew about the PRD.

"You know about that too, Callahan?" the informant said, somewhat surprised. "If Pena gets in, they gonna make it cheaper than it is now. Manteca [street slang for heroin] is $100 to $110 a gram out of New York. If Pena gets in, it will be $30 a gram for Dominicans."

The same economics held for cocaine, said "6’s."

The informant then told McLaughlin about money being collected for the PRD.

"What money?" asked McLaughlin.

"From the corners, for the campaign," said "6’s." "All the owners of the drug corners give lots of money so Pena can buy votes in the DR. Each vote will cost about $30 so the more money they collect, the better chance for the PRD to win in the May elections."

Later that day, FBI agents Thomas Dowd and James Sweeney had separate meetings with Prichett and Sunderhauf.

The results were the same. The FBI told both that investigating the PRD was not their job.

But Prichett had a plan.

If the FBI wasn’t interested in foreign politicos raising campaign cash by selling dope to Philly junkies, Prichett knew who would be.

On Dec. 7, 1995, he called a 1-800 number, which linked to CIA’s local headquarters, which used a post office box in Narberth.

Prichett asked CIA Agent David Lawrence for assistance.

"… we are facing a serious development which would appear to fall in your area of interest," according to Prichett’s written notes of that conversation, obtained by City Paper.

Prichett went on to tell Lawrence about how much influence Dominicans were gaining in U.S. drug trafficking.

"In Baltimore, they dominate in heroin-cocaine and hashish. In Philadelphia alone we have identified 22 drug corners controlled by the D’s."

The next day, Dec. 8, Lawrence called back, according to Prichett’s notes and said that an agent named Victoria Naylor would call over a secure line and then meet the BNI agents at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 11, 1995.

 

On Dec. 11, 1995, Victoria Naylor arrived in the Essington Avenue offices of BNI, where she asked for and received the PRD strategy plan. Before leaving, she told Prichett, Sunderhauf and the Bastard Squad that the CIA station in Santo Domingo wanted to open up a liaison.

In handwritten notes, Prichett wrote that he "stressed social impact on US if DRP gains control."

The next day, Prichett wrote a memo to Sunderhauf, warning the BNI boss about "the serious impact of availability" of cheap Dominican-distributed coke and heroin and explaining the CIA’s interest.

"The Agency has an active counter-intelligence program going in the area of narcotics trafficking and coordinates with the DEA in operations outside the U.S.," he wrote. "They indicated that they might request us to submit a number of questions to our informants and you agreed to cooperate with them. I will keep you closely advised of any future contacts."

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They’re having a party: Former PRD party headquarters at 416 E. Allegheny.

About the same time Sunderhauf was reading Prichett’s memo about CIA interest in Philadelphia drug dealers, McLaughlin’s crew followed a blue Subaru station wagon to Daniel Croussett’s house on the 5000 block of Whitaker Avenue.

Inside the car, they found a secret compartment containing more than 1,000 crack vials, $20,000 worth of "Extra Power" brand heroin, $2,000 worth of coke, and $6,000 worth of crack.

According to McLaughlin’s supplemental report filed Jan. 29, 1996, Alejandro Lopez, Amalio DeJesus and Ricardo Pascaul were all arrested and Daniel Croussett consented to a search of his house. Inside the houses, McLaughlin, Micewski, Steward and Fernandez found $1,247 in cash and an ID for Croussett’s sister, Carmen, who was living in a front bedroom.

In Daniel Croussett’s bedroom, according to McLaughlin’s supplemental report, the BNI investigators found "Items from the PRD that included names of Registered Militants of the party."

McLaughlin ran a small sample of those names through police computers.

The PRD membership list contained the names of several drug dealers and suspected illegal aliens. Among those names, Angel Manuel Rodon Almonte, a 25-year-old living on Hilton Street, was twice arrested for narcotics violations. (The DA’s office dropped charges on April 25, 1996.) Moises Jaques, a 39-year-old living on Wyoming Avenue, would prove especially interesting to investigators. Jaques had two immigration warrants outstanding and had been arrested in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts on drug charges. Jaques is still at large.

The address and phone number Mr. Jaques gave on his party form was for a bus company called Juan Express, which authorities would later state was instrumental in transporting dope-carrying Dominicans from New York and Worcester to Philly.

With drugs and campaign literature found at the same location and with that campaign literature containing the names of drug dealers and illegal aliens, McLaughlin knew he was on the right trail.

With a member of the political party having drug connections in New Jersey and New England, The Bastard Squad began to suspect that if this is going on in Philly, it must be going on elsewhere in the States.

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