Franklin Romero, owner of the indie label Premium Latin, is in custody in New York after being arrested on 10-year-old drug charges. Romero pled not guilty at a hearing March 1 in Manhattan Federal Court and a detention hearing is slated for March 3.
Premium Latin is the label of mega urban bachata group Aventura, which topped Billboard's year-end charts for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010. Premium, which has offices in the Dominican Republic and the United States, also has on its roster up-and-comers Rita Indiana and Wason Brazoban.
"I would like to stress the fact that in the United States we are innocent until proven guilty," label GM Marti Cuevas said in an e-mail to Billboard.
Although Cuevas would not comment on specifics of the case, she said Romero had retained legal council five years ago in an effort to resolve the situation.
"During the past 11 years, Franklin has lived a high-profile life, frequently giving interviews for print, radio and TV, traveling extensively outside of the Dominican Republic. He has not been on the 'lam' as some articles have stated," Cuevas noted.
Romero's case goes back to a 10-year-old indictment filed in Nov. 16, 2000, against him and eight others for alleged violation of U.S. narcotics laws. Specifically, the indictment alleges "the defendants and others known and unknown would and did distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, to wit, 5 kilograms or more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of cocaine."
The indictment describes an elaborate money laundering operation "established to transfer the cash proceeds of narcotics trafficking from the Untied States to Colombia, among other places."
Following the 2000 indictment, Romero left the country. He was arrested Feb. 23 at the Newark Airport.
While Romero's case moves through the legal system, Premium continues to conduct business as usual. In regards to Premium, "Franklin's unfortunate detention has absolutely nothing to do with the artists on the Premium roster, including Aventura," Cuevas said.