Menendez at Ridgewood REORG
The Man Behind Robert Menendez’s Troubles
By Ezra Fieser/ Boca ChicaFeb. 18, 201317 Comments
Feb. 13, 2013.
Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS
Every day in a steady stream, hundreds of trucks line up at the Multimodal Caucedo port in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, with shipping containers bound for the rest of the world. Mostly they carry bananas, clothes and other legal exports. Sometimes they are full of cocaine.
In recent years, the containers have become one of the favored methods for drug traffickers operating in the Dominican Republic, security officials say. Perhaps that’s because the country’s sole X-ray machine scans less than 5% of the containers.
Efforts to solve that problem are at the root of a growing scandal surrounding a powerful U.S. Senator, New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, and a high-flying Florida ophthalmologist, Salomon Melgen, who is among the Democratic Party’s biggest donors.
A decade ago, the Dominican government signed a deal with a private company to provide more X-ray machines. But because of high costs and claims that the deal gives the company a monopoly, it’s been held up in court; the machines were never installed. That’s left in limbo the contract, worth upwards of $500 million over 20 years, and the company that now holds it, Florida-based Boarder Support Services, which was formed by Melgen.