Documents: Dominican minister slain over denied permits

Jun 8, 2022, 4:31 PM | Updated: 7:08 pm
In this photo provided by Diario Libre, The Dominican Republic’s Minister of the Environment and ...

In this photo provided by Diario Libre, The Dominican Republic’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources Orlando Jorge Mera poses for a publicity photo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, May 18, 2022. Mera was shot and killed in his office on Monday, June 6, 2022, according to officials. (Alexander Arias/Diario Libre via AP)

(Alexander Arias/Diario Libre via AP)

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The childhood friend accused of fatally shooting the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources this week allegedly did so because he was denied environmental permits he was seeking on behalf of various companies, according to judicial documents obtained Wednesday.

One of the permits that slain former minister Orlando Jorge had denied had been submitted by his longtime friend and now suspect, Fausto Miguel de Jesús Cruz de la Mota, who served as intermediary between the companies and the ministry. That particular permit involved a request to export 5,000 tons (4,500 metric tons) of used batteries, according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Those permits and others were found inside a briefcase the suspect was carrying when the minister, who is the son of a former president, was shot six times at his office on Monday, the documents state.

Authorities wrote that the suspect was bothered by that particular permit: “It had been denied, but they had resubmitted it.”

They also described Cruz as a “cold and calculating murderer” and are seeking one year of preventive prison as the investigation continues.

It was not immediately clear if Cruz had an attorney.

Shortly after Monday’s killing, police arrested Cruz at a church dozens of blocks away after telling a priest he committed a crime and handed over a gun to him.

Authorities also state in the documents that Cruz allegedly took advantage of his ties with Jorge to seek environmental permits given his support during the 2020 campaign for the minister’s Modern Revolutionary Party. Jorge, who was a founding member of that party, was appointed minister in August 2020.

“I campaigned, and they’re not helping me,” exclaimed Cruz when he arrived at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources before the shooting on the morning of June 6, according to the documents.

“The evidence shows that the accused had been trying to obtain multiple permits but complained angrily that no one was helping him solve anything,” the Dominican Republic’s Department of Justice said in a statement.

It also accused Cruz of threatening the legal adviser of the ministry less than a month ago.

Authorities stated that after the shooting, they seized Cruz’s car and found a 9 mm Uzi with two 30-round magazines each and $2,000 in cash, among other things.

Cruz is the son of Maj. General Fausto Miguel Cruz, who served as commander of the Dominican Republic’s Air Force from 1988 to 1990, a spokeswoman told the AP.

He is also a shareholder of a construction company and an armory.

Meanwhile, Jorge, the slain minister, comes from a well-known political family. He is the son of former Dominican President Salvador Jorge Blanco and his sister is a vice minister in Abinader’s administration. Jorge’s son is a lawmaker for the Modern Revolutionary Party.

Jorge’s family held a two-day wake for him that drew multiple mourners, including David Ortiz, former Red Sox slugger and a Hall of Famer. He was quoted by newspaper Listín Diario as saying: “This is horrible. … Let’s stop all this violence.”

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Documents: Dominican minister slain over denied permits