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Drug Trafficking and Illegal Entry Charges Land Five Foreign Nationals in USVI Court

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ST. THOMAS – The US Attorney’s Office in the District of the Virgin Islands disclosed on Wednesday the guilty pleas and forthcoming sentencing of five foreign individuals facing trial for crimes committed within the region.

Per the announcement, 28-year-old Pedro Ramos Ramirez and Johnny Arias Rodriquez, alongside 26-year-old Gerald Cruz, have all acknowledged involvement in a cocaine trafficking scheme.

On December 29, 2022, these Puerto Rican nationals were aboard a speedboat, navigating without active navigational lights north of Stumpy Bay, St. Thomas, when detected by the Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, as per court filings.

Officials noticed a light emanating from the boat, reciprocated by a light from the shore, initiating an attempt to seize the vessel. However, the boat’s skipper tried to escape, maneuvering wildly across the waters while the other two individuals discarded cocaine bales into the sea. CBP AMO personnel eventually immobilized the boat, retrieving 75 kilograms of cocaine from the water.

A district judge is set to decree the sentences for the trio, who are each looking at a maximum penalty of $10 million alongside a potential mandatory term of 10 years to life.

In another development, 31-year-old Yefri Martinez-Herrera, hailing from the Dominican Republic, received a 168-month prison sentence post his guilty plea earlier this year to conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine charges. Martinez-Herrera confessed to collaborating with an accomplice to vend 200 kilograms of cocaine to an undercover agent. A subsequent search warrant executed on February 3, 2022, at Martinez-Herrera’s residence in French Town unveiled 87 kilograms of cocaine, a firearm in the bedroom, and Martinez-Herrera himself concealed in a closet.

Lastly, Chinese national, Xiaoling Li, 32, was sentenced to time served following his admission to unlawful entry into the United States. As per authorities, Li journeyed from China to Suriname, where he compensated traffickers $7500 for transit to St. Thomas by boat. On attempting to board a flight to New York on August 2, Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted him. Records indicate that Li had not sought or obtained entry authorization into the United States.

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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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Crime

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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