As recently as last month, the office of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez urged the Department of Homeland Security to withhold any possible donations of port security equipment to the Dominican Republic, according to The New York Times.
A Menendez aide insisted that U.S. government-donated equipment would potentially be shelved by compromised Dominican officials in order to allow the free flow of drugs through the country’s ports.
The request came as Menendez’s close friend and donor — Dr. Salomon Melgen — continued to seek U.S. government assistance to advance his port security contract in the Dominican Republic, worth as much as $500 million over 20 years. The paper reports:
In a January e-mail exchange with Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Menendez’s staff did not mention Dr. Melgen or his company, Boarder Support Services, by name.
But the aide asked if the United States government was planning to donate additional port security equipment to the Dominican Republic. The aide explained that if such a donation occurred, the Dominican government, perhaps under pressure from criminal elements there, might intentionally limit the use of the equipment so that drugs or other contraband could still flow through the country’s ports on the way to the United States.
Only by hiring the unnamed private contractor, the e-mail said, could the United States be assured that port security in the Dominican Republic would be enhanced.
The Times also published an editorial on Saturday calling for Menendez to be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.