Man held in David Ortiz shooting charged with drug, weapons offenses

FILE PHOTO: Mar 3, 2019; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox former player David Ortiz (red hat) walks on the field prior to the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports -/File Photo

(Reuters) – A man being held in the Dominican Republic in connection with the shooting and serious wounding of retired Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was charged in New Jersey on Thursday with drug and weapons violations in an unrelated case, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Rolfi Ferreira-Cruz, 25, of Paterson, New Jersey, was indicted in Newark on three federal counts, including conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine and possession of a firearm to traffic drugs, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.

Each of the three counts carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison.

Ferreira-Cruz is behind bars in the Dominican Republic in connection with the orchestrated attack outside a nightclub earlier this month, a spokesman for Carpenito said. Ortiz, 43, was struck by bullets that were meant for someone else, according to Dominican Republic Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez.

Dominican authorities are also holding several other suspects in connection with the shooting of Ortiz, a slugger beloved in Boston for helping the Red Sox end an 86-year championship drought in 2004. He also starred on World Series champion teams in 2007 and 2013.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez told reporters the target was a man named Sixto David Fernandez, who was sitting with Ortiz and was similarly dressed.

The man suspected of planning the attack was Victor Hugo Gomez, a fugitive from U.S. justice with links to Mexico’s Gulf Cartel drug gang, who believed Fernandez had betrayed him to law enforcement several years ago, Rodriguez said.[nL2N23R02S]

Ortiz was listed in good condition after being hospitalized and undergoing surgery in Boston, where he was transported a day after being shot in the back, a Red Sox spokesman said.

Reporting by Peter Szekely and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by David Gregorio

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