CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A 24-year-old St. Thomas man was arrested at the airport on charges that he tried to smuggle a huge cache of guns, many of them Glock pistols, into the territory, according to federal authorities.
Naeem Akil Smith was arrested charged with the unlawful possession of 18 firearms, including two assault rifles, at the Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.
Smith’s arrest resulted from a joint law enforcement operation named “Operation Gun Dog” conducted by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) led task force during the St. Thomas Carnival season, Sharpe said.
Smith made his initial appearance in court on May 5, 2016 before District Court Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller. A detention hearing was held on May 6, 2016 for Smith where he was ordered to post a $10,000 unsecured bond. Smith is also required to wear an electronic monitor.
According to the complaint, on April 27, 2016, at the Cyril E. King Airport, a law enforcement K-9 alerted to the presence of firearms inside of luggage checked in Smith’s name. CBP officers examined Smith’s luggage, which revealed one Taurus pistol, 15 Glock pistols, and two AK-47 assault rifles.
His luggage also contained two AK-47 magazines, 36 other pistol magazines with capacities ranging from 9 to 15 rounds, 10 speed loaders, twenty .40 caliber Smith and Wesson rounds, and a storage box.
Under federal law if convicted of unlawful possession of firearms, Smith would face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Operation Gun Dog was formed by law enforcement officials from CBP, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), United States Marshals Service, Transportation Security Administration, Virgin Islands Port Authority and Virgin Islands Police Department to interdict contraband travelling through the Cyril E. King Airport and deter criminal activity during the St. Thomas Carnival.
The case is being investigated by HSI and ATF.
It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Delia Smith.
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.