Victor Reyes-Martinez, a 40-year-old Nicaraguan man, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine while onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The plea was announced by United States Attorney for the V.I., Delia L. Smith, on Friday.
Reyes-Martinez entered his plea before Magistrate Judge Emile A. Henderson, III. A sentencing date will be determined by the Court, and he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. A federal district judge will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors before determining the sentence.
On September 11, 2022, a maritime patrol aircraft detected a go-fast vessel approximately 80 nautical miles south of Bani, Dominican Republic, while on routine patrol. The U.S.S. Billings was dispatched to intercept the vessel, which was found to have no flag, registration numbers, or name painted on its hull. The Dominican Republic Navy confirmed that the vessel was not registered with their country, making it subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
Upon boarding the vessel, the U.S.S. Billings team detained Reyes-Martinez and another individual. They discovered 18 bales of cocaine weighing approximately 630 kilograms. The case is being investigated by the United States Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations, and Drug Enforcement Administration, with Assistant United States Attorney Evan Rikhye prosecuting.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation, aimed at identifying, disrupting, and dismantling high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States. The OCDETF employs a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach, leveraging the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.