An alleged drug trafficker whose name surfaced over the summer in connection with the shooting of Red Sox legend David Ortiz was arrested Monday in Colombia on a US warrant charging him with cocaine and heroin distribution, authorities said.
The attorney general’s office in Colombia announced the arrest of César Emilio Peralta, 44, also known as “El Abusador,” or “The Abuser,” in a statement Monday.
Peralta was the subject of an extradition request by federal prosecutors in South Florida and Puerto Rico. He was arrested in the Boca Grande section of Colombia, the statement said.
The Florida indictment alleges Peralta and several other suspects conspired to distribute cocaine, knowing it would be imported into the United States. Peralta’s name also was mentioned in August in connection with the shooting of Ortiz.
The retired slugger was shot in the back at close range in June as he sat with friends in a patio area of a popular night spot in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz survived, but details of the attack that stunned the sports world have remained shrouded in mystery.
Initially, Dominican authorities said Ortiz had been targeted in a botched hit job.
But investigators later told reporters the Dominican-born ballplayer, revered as a hero in his native country, was mistakenly shot by assailants targeting another man, Sixto David Fernández, at the behest of Victor Hugo Gomez Vasquez.
Vasquez, authorities said, had allegedly sought to kill Fernández for informing on him about a decade ago. The claim prompted widespread skepticism. Ortiz is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed about 245 pounds at the time of the June shooting. He has a dark complexion, while the light-skinned Fernández is thin and about 5 feet 6 inches tall.
Here’s where Peralta figures into the story: Vasquez, before his June 28 arrest in connection with Ortiz’s shooting, released a video denying involvement in the attack and claiming that Fernández was closely tied to Peralta. Vasquez didn’t lay blame on anyone for the shooting.
Ortiz once owned an apartment in the same luxury tower in Santo Domingo as Peralta. Joe Baerlein, a spokesman for Ortiz, has said Ortiz bought his unit before the tower was built and chose to sell it about five years ago because Peralta bought the penthouse.
When they crossed paths, Ortiz and Peralta acknowledged each other, Baerlein said, but Ortiz kept his distance, recognizing the danger of getting too close.
“No one in the Dominican Republic ever wanted to be an enemy of Peralta because everybody knew he was part of this [alleged] drug cartel,’’ Baerlein said over the summer on behalf of his client.
Baerlein declined to comment Tuesday on Peralta’s arrest because he was still gathering information about it.
Peralta hasn’t been charged in connection with the Ortiz case, and Dominican authorities have presented no evidence linking Peralta to the shooting.
Dominican National Police Colonel Frank Felix Duran Mejia told the Globe in August that investigators in the Ortiz shooting case looked into many angles, including possible links to Peralta, but they found them meritless.
“Evidently, David was in, how do you Americans say, ‘wrong place, wrong time,’ and confused for someone else,” Duran said in an interview at the national police headquarters. “There is no doubt. . . . But, lamentably, people want to hear something else.”
A previously released FBI wanted poster said the bureau was offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest and conviction of Peralta. The FBI identified him by an alternative name, Cesar Emilio Peralta-Adamez.
“Cesar Emilio Peralta-Adamez is wanted for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking between 2007 and 2017 in the countries of Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, and the continental United States, and Puerto Rico,” the FBI said in the earlier advisory.
Peralta was at the center of an August raid by US and Dominican law enforcement on an alleged drug trafficking and money laundering ring, according to the US Treasury Department. Some 18 suspects, including former major league players Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo, were arrested or cited in the sweep. But Peralta wasn’t captured at the time.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.