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GRAND JURY: DPNR Officer and Two Other Men Indicted For Conspiring With Gov. Mapp’s Bodyguard To Smuggle Cocaine To Territory

HIGH-FLYING BODYGUARD: Neal Chesterfield was caught at the airport with 48 pounds of cocaine in his luggage.

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE – Three St. Thomas men — including a Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) officer — were formally accused of wrongdoing by a federal grand jury on Thursday for their roles in a cocaine smuggling conspiracy engineered by Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s bodyguard, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Gerald Mercer, 42, Jamal Haynes, 39, Makimba Barry, 39, and Craig Richardson, 39, were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 18, 2017, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, Acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett said today.

Mercer, an officer with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller on Friday and Richardson made his initial appearance on Monday, Hewlett said.

Mercer was placed on home detention and ordered to pay a $75,000 cash bond pending trial. Richardson was detained pending his detention hearing Wednesday.

Barry and Haynes were arrested earlier and detained pending trial. According to the indictment, Richardson, Barry and Haynes conspired with Neal Chesterfield, former bodyguard of Gov. Mapp, to possess with intent to distribute approximately 136 kilograms of cocaine beginning on or about December 15, 2014, through September 3, 2016.

Prior to that date Mercer, Barry and Chesterfield conspired to possess with intent to distribute 125 kilograms of cocaine beginning on or about January 1, 2011, through December 15, 2014.

Chesterfield pleaded guilty to an Information on December 6, 2016 and is detained pending sentencing. If convicted, each of the men charged in the indictment faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years and not more than life, and a fine of up to $10 million.

This case results from an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) joint investigation conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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