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ATL 2 STT DRUG XXXION: 20-Year-Old Georgia Man Picked Up With 15 Kilos Of Marijuana In His Luggage On St. Thomas

baggage claim STT

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A 20-year-old Georgia man appeared in federal court on Wednesday to face charges that he was trying to distribute marijuana, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Keenan Powell-Ryder of Gainesville, GA, made his initial appearance April 20, 2016, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller after being charged in a complaint with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, U.S.Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe said.

At a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, probable cause was found to arrest Powell-Ryder, who was subsequently released on an appearance bond with numerous conditions of release, Sharpe said.

According to the complaint, on April 19, 2016, Powell-Ryder arrived at the Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas on board a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta, Georgia.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers approached Powell-Ryder and asked him if he had any checked luggage, which he denied. He was taken to secondary inspection where CBP officers matched luggage containing 14.99 kilograms of marijuana to Powell-Ryder.Under federal law if convicted of possession with intent to distribute 14.99 kilograms of marijuana,

Sources familiar with the drug trade who spoke on condition of anonymity said that a pound of marijuana currently sells for $6,000 on the black market in St. Thomas and retails for about $2,000 a pound in St. Croix, making the successful smuggling of marijuana into the territory a very lucrative business, leading to an increase in the number of people willing to risk arrest to bring it here.

On the mainland, a pound of marijuana sells for $200 to $400 a pound, depending on how many pounds the customer buys at one time, the sources said. A kilogram is equal to about 2.2 pounds.

Powell-Ryder faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David White.

Sharpe said that a complaint is merely a formal charging document and is not in and of itself evidence of guilt.

“Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty,” he said.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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