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Fugitive in Texas Sexual Assault Case Voluntarily Surrenders to VIPD on St. Croix

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ST. CROIX — A local inhabitant of St. Croix, Kai Cuencas, with a pending warrant in Nacogdoches County, Texas, is currently confined at the John Bell Correctional Facility after initiating his voluntary surrender to the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD). He approached local law enforcement to facilitate his surrender and is presently in custody, awaiting transfer.

Cuencas, who was wanted for a serious sexual assault charge in Texas, turned himself in on September 14. He informed the VIPD officers about the existing warrant for his arrest in Texas. The officers swiftly liaised with the National Crime Information Center to corroborate his statement, verifying the active warrant for aggravated sexual assault.

Post-verification with the Nacogdoches Sheriff Department, the local law enforcement reached out to Cuencas using the contact information he provided. Court documents reveal that Cuencas expressed his willingness to be apprehended to address the outstanding warrant, stating he “just needs to be picked up so that he can deal with the warrant.”

Cuencas meticulously planned a rendezvous with the officers at a quick-service restaurant located in La Reine. Upon their arrival, he confirmed his identity, presenting a Virgin Islands voter registration card. Subsequently, he was arrested and faced charges as a fugitive from justice. He has been committed to the Bureau of Corrections pending his initial court appearance.

During a rights advisement session on September 18, Magistrate Ernest Morris Jr. received information that Cuencas planned to relinquish extradition proceedings. Cuencas has been mandated to remain in custody until the status conference slated for October 16, allowing Texas ample time to arrange his extradition.

This incident underscores the VIPD’s commitment to upholding the law and ensuring that individuals with criminal charges are brought to justice, irrespective of their location. The collaborative efforts between local and out-of-state law enforcement agencies exemplify the concerted commitment to maintaining law and order and ensuring public safety.

It remains crucial for community members to remain vigilant and informed about local happenings and to collaborate with law enforcement agencies to create safer environments. The cooperation between the VIPD and Texas law enforcement demonstrates the significant impact of interdepartmental collaboration in addressing crime and delivering justice promptly.

The implications of this case are profound, emphasizing the importance of law enforcement agencies working in tandem to apprehend individuals wanted for serious crimes. The seamless cooperation and swift action taken by both VIPD and Texas law enforcement illustrate the efficacy of inter-agency collaboration in safeguarding communities and upholding justice.

This incident serves as a pertinent reminder of the legal repercussions awaiting those who attempt to evade justice. It highlights the resolve and diligence of law enforcement agencies in ensuring that individuals facing serious criminal charges are apprehended and made to answer for their actions, thereby contributing to the overall safety and well-being of the community.

In conclusion, the voluntary surrender of Kai Cuencas is a testament to the relentless pursuit of justice by law enforcement agencies. It underscores the importance of community awareness and interdepartmental collaboration in fostering a safer and more secure society.

For more information and updates on this and other local news, stay tuned to USVI News & World Report.

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Crime

Kansas Man Charged for Not Declaring Firearm During St. Thomas Visit

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ST. THOMAS — A Kansas man is facing charges in the District Court of the Virgin Islands for failing to declare a firearm during his visit to St. Thomas.

Customs and Border Protection officials, conducting routine inspections at the Cyril E. King Airport on Thursday, discovered the undeclared weapon during a secondary search prompted by a canine alert on a bag belonging to Robert Dean Zoch’s travel partner.

The search revealed a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver in Zoch’s checked luggage. The firearm, packed with five rounds of ammunition, was accompanied by an additional 10 rounds in speedloaders.

Zoch, a resident of Kansas, was on his way home on a Spirit Airlines flight with a layover in Orlando, Florida, when he was detained and questioned by Homeland Security Investigations agents. He admitted to knowingly packing the weapon in his bag without securing it, citing haste as the reason for his oversight. Zoch also confessed to not informing the airline about the firearm on either leg of his trip and admitted to lacking a federal license for the firearm.

According to court documents, Zoch claimed he carried the gun for protection due to reports of shootings in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Charged with failure to provide written notice of a firearm to a common carrier, Zoch appeared before U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller. He was ordered to sign an unsecured $15,000 bond for his release pending trial. His travel will be restricted to Shawnee County, Kansas, and St. Thomas. Additionally, his firearms will be held by authorities, and he must report regularly to the U.S. probation office.

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Crime

BVI Pastor and Radio Host Arrested on Allegations of Fraudulent Government Contracts

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Claude Skelton Cline, a well-known pastor and radio personality in the British Virgin Islands, has been arrested and charged with obtaining property by deception, false accounting, and proceeds of crime.

The arrest follows an announcement from former Governor John Rankin last March, revealing that an audit, recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, scrutinized government contracts awarded to Cline between 2008 and 2010. According to Rankin, the audit uncovered “failures in good governance and improper use of public funds.” The findings were forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution, and the police.

BVI police stated that Cline’s arrest on Friday culminated an 18-month criminal investigation initiated by the audit’s findings. The audit revealed that Cline received over $350,000 during this period with negligible results from his consultancy work, leading auditors to conclude that the contracts primarily benefited Cline financially rather than providing value to the government.

“The government failed to receive value for money on these contracts,” the report stated. In response to the public disclosure of the audit findings last year, Cline asserted his innocence, claiming, “I did a phenomenal job for my part in a two-part contractual arrangement.” He further stated, “I feel no compunction to defend myself.”

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Joseph Anthony Ramirez Faces Attempted Murder Charges After Assaulting Officers in St. Croix

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At the Candido Guadalupe Housing Complex in St. Croix, a report of domestic violence on Sunday afternoon quickly turned perilous for responding officers, culminating in attempted murder charges for 37-year-old Joseph Anthony Ramirez.

The sequence of events unfolded when the Virgin Islands Police Department received a call around 2:33 p.m. from the 911 Emergency Call Center regarding a disturbance at apartment 85, building 7. Upon arrival, officers were informed by the victim that Ramirez had vandalized her apartment. As one officer began to investigate, Ramirez unexpectedly attacked, initiating an assault by placing the officer in a chokehold, threatening his ability to breathe.

The attack escalated even after a good Samaritan and the victim intervened, enabling the officer to momentarily escape. Despite being informed of his arrest, Ramirez attacked again, this time inflicting a severe laceration above the officer’s eyelid and resuming the chokehold. The situation required backup, with two additional officers arriving at the scene before Ramirez could be subdued and arrested.

Charged with attempted murder and third-degree assault, Ramirez was subsequently read his Miranda Rights, booked, and transported to the John Bell Correctional Facility. Unable to meet the initial $100,000 bail, Ramirez was held until a court hearing on Tuesday where his bail was reduced to $10,000. He remains in custody, with a bail hearing scheduled for later today, May 15.

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