Former DPNR Officer Gets Nearly 16 Years In Prison For Running 100 Kilos of Cocaine
CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A former Department of Planning and Natural Resources officer who masterminded a smuggling operation that moved 220 pounds (100 kilos) of cocaine through the territory was given nearly sixteen years in prison for his federal conviction on cocaine distribution-related counts.
Gerald W. Mercer, 42, of St. Thomas was sentenced on Thursday to 191 months (15.91 years) in prison for his role in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.
U.S. District Judge Curtis Gomez also sentenced Mercer to five years of supervised release, 400 hours of community service, and a $100 special assessment.
On June 1, 2018, Mercer was found guilty, by a federal jury sitting in St. Thomas.
According to trial testimony, Mercer was a member of a large-scale cocaine smuggling organization that operated out of the Cyril E. King International Airport between January of 2012 and November of 2016.
The drug organization recruited a member of the Virgin Islands Police Department’s Executive Security Unit (ESU) who used his law enforcement credentials to bypass security screening at the St. Thomas airport.
The conspiracy smuggled at least 75 kilograms of cocaine from St. Thomas to Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The officer who transported the drugs was to be paid $2,500 per kilogram.
According to trial testimony, Mercer would travel to the officer’s residence and provide him with a cellular phone, the first half of the payment, and a duffle bag containing the cocaine. Mercer would instruct the officer to purchase airline tickets and hotel reservations.
While at the residence, Mercer would prepare and pack the cocaine (an average of five kilograms per trip) in the officer’s carryon bag. Upon arrival in Florida, the officer would receive the second half of his payment.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Delia Smith.