New York: Based on an exhaustive investigation by the newspaper El Faro Latino about the fate of a container with humanitarian aid sent by the Dominican diaspora from Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey to the victims of Hurricane Fiona in the province of Higüey, shipped in November 2022.
On October 7, 2023, a group of Dominicans who identified themselves as part of the donors of said aid denounced the disappearance of the container, which is why this newspaper opened the investigation that we are closing today with the following results:
According to an official source from the General Directorate of Customs (DGA), the 20-foot container, marked with the number BMOU2061033, sent by the shipping company SMA to Brocker in the Dominican Republic, OCEAN VIEW LOGISTICS LIMITED, the cargo consolidators, SEA TRAN’S SERVICES with the RNC 124011312. Said container has a weight of 7,031.00 KGS and was declared in a state of Abandonment in the warehouses of the Punta Caucedo Port.
What does the state of Abandonment mean?
A container is declared in a state of Abandonment when it’s owners or interested parties leave it waiting for more than four months without removing it or paying taxes, late payments and storage surcharges, etc. When this happens, the General Directorate of Customs (DGA) puts it up for public auction to compensate the debts caused by the Abandonment of said container in the warehouses, but legal proceedings can also take place in search of compensation for obligations and damages in If the results of the public auction are not enough to compensate the accumulated debt to the private sector. I clarify, not the General Directorate of Customs (DGA). That is to say that the person or persons responsible for having sent a container left in an abandoned state can be civilly prosecuted to make them pay.
It is estimated that the container with the aid that Dominicans from Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey collected to send to the victims of Hurricane Fiona in Higüey already has a huge accumulated debt. The reason why Customs classified it in a state of Abandonment. In addition, according to an expert consulted by the newspaper El Faro Latino, he said that most of the products inside the container might be already damaged or expired, first exposed to the intense cold in the US and then, for six months in the humid warehouses of the tropical climate of the Dominican Republic. See some of the invoices generated as debts to which El Faro Latino had access:
According to Mrs. Enerolina Meléndez and Mr. Franklin Medrano, and Mr. Charles Mendoza, considered the main people responsible for coordinating the event they called “FOOD DRIVE,” through which they collected a container full of food and household items, they paid $3,500 for transportation ocean shipping and $1,700 for ground transportation from Philadelphia to the port of Newark, New Jersey. According to what Meléndez confessed to the newspaper El Faro Latino, the community members made donations in checks for 7,200 dollars deposited in the Dominican Chamber of Commerce account, chaired by Franklin Medrano. El Faro Latino asked Medrano for a detailed list of assets and liabilities of these operations, but as of the closing of this report, we had not received it.
On the other hand, the mayor of the municipal district of San Francisco-Vicentillo of the El Seibo province, José Manuel Ortega Gómez, who is trying to get the container, said on the morning of Thursday, April 13, in an exclusive interview with the newspaper El Faro Latino via telephone that the authorities had placed the container with the aid sent from Philadelphia in a public auction status, so it fights in a race against time to see if it can remove the container that was stranded in the Punta Caucedo Port of Boca Chica, to bring what is good to his community that was devastated by Hurricane Fiona.
This is a developing story; check this newsletter for more updates.