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Darren Bess Returned to St. Croix to Stand Trial for Kevin Jerome’s Murder

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Darren Bess, now in custody in St. Croix, following his extradition. Courtesy of the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD).

The Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) confirmed the extradition of Darren Bess to St. Croix from California on March 18, marking a significant development in the murder investigation of Kevin Jerome. Bess now faces a series of charges in connection with the tragic incident, including first-degree murder, first-degree assault, illegal firearm possession during a violent crime, unauthorized possession of ammunition, and first-degree reckless endangerment.

After the extradition, Bess was detained at the John Bell Correction Facility due to his inability to secure bond. The following day, in a turn of events, he was released into the custody of a relative, subjected to a 24-hour house arrest enforced with electronic monitoring, as disclosed by the VIPD.

This case originates from a distressing event reported on February 26, 2021. Authorities were summoned to Main Street in Williams Delight following reports of gunfire and discovered a man fatally wounded by a gunshot to the head, lying beside an SUV riddled with bullets. The deceased was later identified as 30-year-old Kevin Jerome, whose demise was pronounced at the Juan F. Luis Hospital.

Further investigations identified Darren Bess and Ian Benjamin Jr. as conspirators in the alleged murder, with Benjamin accused of executing the fatal act. Benjamin, 22, was apprehended on March 1, and faced with a $1 million bail, was detained at the John Bell Correctional Facility. He was later released under third-party custodianship to a family member after being unable to meet the bail amount.

Bess, aged 29, was arrested in Placer County, California, on March 6, 2024, following a warrant issued by the VIPD for Jerome’s murder, pending his return to the Virgin Islands for trial.

In light of this ongoing investigation, the VIPD encourages the public to come forward with any information that may assist in the case or other criminal activities. Community members can reach out to Crime Stoppers V.I. at 1(800)222-8477 (TIPS), online, or directly to the VIPD Tipline at (340)778-4950, ensuring the continued pursuit of justice in the Virgin Islands.

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Crime

Former Deputy Park Superintendent of St. Croix Sentenced for Property Conversion and Fraud

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ST. CROIX, VI – Gregory Camacho, 43, previously Deputy Park Superintendent for the National Park Service in St. Croix, received a sentence of nine months of home detention and four years of probation for unlawfully converting property, according to U.S. Attorney for the USVI, Delia L. Smith. The sentencing was handed down by District Judge Wilma A. Lewis on Thursday.

In addition to home detention and probation, Judge Lewis imposed a $6,000 fine and a special assessment of $75 on Camacho. He was also ordered to pay restitution amounting to $29,502.20 to the National Park Service.

According to court filings, Camacho, during his tenure as acting park superintendent from June 2019 to August 2020, occupied two housing units owned by the National Park Service without fulfilling rental payments, causing a loss of $14,192.10. In another instance in July 2019, Camacho deceitfully claimed relocation expenses for his family’s move from Titusville, FL, to St. Croix, even though he moved alone. This action led to unjust reimbursements totaling $13,387.50.

Furthermore, between October 2018 and September 2019, Camacho was found to have submitted overlapping travel vouchers for the same trips from his primary duty station, resulting in an additional $1,922.50 in improper gains.

These findings were brought to light through an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior, with the case prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel H. Huston.

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Crime

Daylight Assault in St. Thomas Leaves Man Injured

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A distressing incident unfolded on St. Thomas when a man suffered injuries in a daylight assault in Simmonds Alley, according to a statement from the V.I. Police Department. The attack occurred on Wednesday around 12:15 p.m.

Authorities were alerted to the situation when the 911 Emergency Call Center received a call about a man found bleeding from the neck near the Jala Jala establishment on Kronprindsens Gade. Responding officers discovered the victim with a severe laceration on the left side of his neck, believed to be the result of the assault.

Despite the seriousness of his injuries, the victim refrained from providing a statement to law enforcement at the scene. He was quickly transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center for medical attention.

The VIPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau has taken charge of the investigation and is urging the public to assist by providing any relevant information. Individuals can contact the CIB at (340) 774-2211 or call 911. For those preferring to stay anonymous, tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers USVI by calling 1-800-222-8477 or online.

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Six Arrests Made in St. Thomas Drug Trafficking Crackdown

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ST. THOMAS — A targeted joint operation by the Virgin Islands Police Department, alongside the Drug Enforcement Agency and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, resulted in the arrest of six men accused of drug-related crimes in the Red Hook area, a noted hub for illegal narcotics activity.

Throughout February, these coordinated efforts focused on dismantling drug trafficking networks, culminating in several key arrests:

  • N’Kel Morton, 30, was taken into custody at Red Hook Plaza on March 8, 2024, facing charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute.
  • On March 7, 2024, Jaamal Bell, 42, was arrested at American Yacht Harbor, charged with intent to distribute narcotics.
  • Peter Francis Jr., 33, encountered the same fate at the same location, on identical charges.
  • Anwar Lockhart, 40, was arrested on March 15, 2024, on Cassi Hill for cocaine distribution.
  • Niah Henry, 35, was apprehended on March 16, 2024, at Red Hook Plaza, with charges similar to Morton’s.
  • Kenson Plasimond, 43, was arrested on March 7, 2024, at Tutu Park Mall, also charged with possession with intent to distribute.

These arrests signify a continued commitment by local and federal law enforcement to curb the flow of illegal drugs in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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