CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A 24-year-old St. Thomas man pleaded guilty in federal court this week to attempting to smuggle at least 44 pounds of marijuana into the territory, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Deonte Damari Bailey pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.
According to the plea agreement, on Wednesday, January 20, 2016, Bailey arrived at the Cyril E. King International Airport on board a Delta Airlines flight from New York. Bailey’s flight had originated in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bailey removed his suitcase from the conveyor belt when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers conducting routine inspections, along with CBP canine Castro, alerted to the presence of narcotics. Bailey was escorted to secondary inspection for further investigation.
During secondary inspection, CBP officers discovered a second baggage tag. Officers went to Delta Airlines baggage claim and retrieved a second suitcase belonging to Bailey. Each suitcase was inspected and each contained approximately 10 kilograms of marijuana.
When questioned, Bailey admitted that he had possession of both bags from the time he packed them until he checked them in with Delta Airlines in Las Vegas.
U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez permitted Bailey to remain on release pending his October 12, 2016, sentencing date, Sharpe said.
Bailey faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson Jones.