The Dominican Republic’s top drug official vowed to continue his agency’s fight against organized crime and drug trafficking after his deputy was gunned down in Santo Domingo.

The victim, Lieutenant Colonel Cesar Ubri Bocio, was an 18-year veteran of the National Drugs Control Agency (Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas – DNCD) and had also served as an assistant to previous DNCD chiefs.

He was shot dead on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. in front of a church in the Las Praderas section of the capital city, while in his car accompanied by a woman.

DNCD head Rolando Rosado Mateo suggested that the murder was likely intended as a “message” for the agency, which has had a number of recent successes against criminal organizations, citing the fact that his assistant had been shot in both arms with a shotgun at close range.

The authorities have ruled out the theory that the killing was motivated by theft, and the officer’s family suggested that the killers stole the car and phones of the two passengers to disguise it as a simple robbery.

The Dominican Republic is used as a transit point for trafficking drugs from South America to the United States.

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