MLB

Drug kingpin targeted David Ortiz in 2019 shooting, private investigators find

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BOSTON — A Dominican drug trafficker who was jealous of David Ortiz and felt disrespected by him had him shot at a Dominican nightclub in 2019, according to the private investigators the former Red Sox slugger hired to look into the attack that nearly killed him.

The findings by former Boston police commissioner Edward Davis contradict the theory of the crime developed by Dominican prosecutors.

Davis told The Boston Globe that he identified drug trafficker César Peralta as having orchestrated the shooting by placing a bounty on Ortiz and sanctioning the hit squad that tried to kill him. Dominican authorities did not cooperate with the private investigation.

Peralta is being held without bail in Puerto Rico on unrelated charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and heroin. The US Treasury designated Peralta a drug kingpin in 2019, and he was extradited to the US territory in December.

Ortiz’s spokesperson, Joe Baerlein, told the Globe that Davis’ findings were withheld for Ortiz’s safety until Peralta was in US custody.

Peralta has not been charged in relation to Ortiz’s shooting. Peralta’s lawyer, Joaquin Perez, said his client had nothing to do with the attempt on Ortiz’s life.

« As bad as César Peralta is, it’s not even close to being in the ballpark to say he had something to do with this, » Perez said.

Perez described Ortiz and Peralta as « close friends. » Ortiz told the Globe he knew Peralta only casually and that he was « sad, confused, angry, all kinds of emotions » when he received the news from Davis and Ric Prado, a former high-ranking CIA official who participated in the inquiry.

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Dominican authorities have said the target was meant to be Sixto David Fernandez, who was sharing a table with Ortiz when he was shot. Authorities said the hit men confused Fernandez with Ortiz, one of the most popular Dominican ballplayers ever.

Thirteen people have been charged in relation to Ortiz’s shooting and are awaiting trial in the Dominican Republic.

Baerlein said Ortiz, 46, was waiting for further legal action in the Dominican and US courts to bring clarity about why this happened to him.

A 10-time All-Star, Ortiz helped the Red Sox end their 86-year championship drought in 2004 and beat .688 against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013 to win World Series MVP.

Ortiz retired after the 2016 season with 541 home runs, and the team retired his No. 34. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot in January.

He maintained a home in the Boston area and had been living part of the year in the Dominican Republic. He was seriously injured in the June 9, 2019, shooting. Doctors in the Dominican Republic removed Ortiz’s gallbladder and part of his intestines after the shooting, and he underwent further surgery in the US

Ortiz told the Globe he wants to know why anyone might want him dead, but « the most important thing is, thank God, I’m alive. »

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