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St. Thomas Native With AK-47s In His Luggage At Airport Pleads Guilty To Gun Smuggling Charges

 An AK-47 machine gun and magazines

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A 24-year-old St. Thomas native admitted in federal court that a cache of machine guns and other weapons in his luggage were his.

Naeem Akil Smith of Estate Thomas pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas Thursday to trafficking 18 firearms in interstate and foreign commerce, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

Smith’s sentencing is scheduled for December 15, 2016.

According to the plea agreements filed with the court, on August 11 at the Cyril E. King International Airport, a law enforcement K-9 dog alerted officers 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.

Smith faces a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than five years, and a $250,000.00 fine. Smith was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service pending sentencing.

The case was a result of Operation Gun Dog 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 (VIPD) to interdict contraband traveling through the Cyril E. King Airport and deter criminal activity during the St. Thomas Carnival.

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith.

In an unrelated matter, 24-year-old Akil Smith of St. Croix was arrested by the VIPD in November 2015 and charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm. Police said then that Smith had a .9 mm handgun in the vehicle he was driving.

But Akil Smith of St. Croix contacted the Virgin Islands Free Press and said that he is no relation to Naeem Akil Smith on St. Thomas. Each man is 24 years old.

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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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