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Puerto Rico Native Admits To Transporting 156 Pounds Of Cocaine Through St. Croix

CHRISTIANSTED – A 52-year-old native of Puerto Rico pleaded guilty in federal court to moving 156.53 pounds of cocaine through St. Croix, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Carmelo Cruz-Velez admitted in federal court on St. Croix to conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute charges, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

Prior to October 21, 2014, Cruz-Velez and his co-conspirators agreed to import cocaine into St. Croix and deliver it to others. On October 21, 2014, his co-conspirators retrieved a mid-sea shipment of cocaine totaling 71 kilograms and brought it to St. Croix pursuant to the agreement, Sharpe said.

Subsequently, Cruz-Velez, knowing of the plan, took possession of the cocaine and delivered it to another individual.

Cruz-Velez faces up to life imprisonment for the offense and a fine of up to $10,000,000. A sentencing date has been set for January 16, 2017.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso Andrews, Jr.

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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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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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