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HE TINK HE SLICK: Gov. Mapp’s Bodyguard Arrested At The Airport With 48 Pounds Of Cocaine In His Luggage

Neal Chesterfield

BUSTED! Neal Chesterfield of St. Thomas

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s hand-picked bodyguard has been arrested at the St. Thomas airport with 47.4 pounds of cocaine in his carry-on bag and $26,025 in undeclared cash in his computer case the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

Neal A. Chesterfield, 37, of St. Thomas, was arrested Saturday and charged with possession of about 21.5 kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

At his initial appearance and detention hearing Monday in District Court, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller remanded Chesterfield to the custody of the United States Marshals Service pending trial.

According to the complaint and affidavit filed with the court, on Saturday at the Cyril E. King International Airport on St. Thomas, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics in Chesterfield’s carry-on luggage while he was waiting in the Spirit Airlines gate area.

Chesterfield, who is a “dignity security officer” for Mapp, used his law enforcement credentials to bypass TSA screening, and was about to board Spirit flight 212 to Fort Lauderdale, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Upon inspection of Chesterfield’s luggage, CBP officers discovered 18 plastic-wrapped packages, the contents of which tested positive for the presence of cocaine, weighing 21.44 kilograms. CBP officers also discovered $26,025.00 in U.S. Currency inside a small computer bag in Chesterfield’s possession.

If convicted, Chesterfield faces a minimum sentence of not less than 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10 million.

Mapp addressed a coterie of federal law enforcement officials at a function held in St. Thomas at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel just last month.

Chesterfield comes from a prominent law enforcement family in St. Thomas with relatives currently serving for the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) and his father was the capital island’s former top cop.

According to the Virgin Islands Personnel Department website, Chesterfield is paid $70,000 per year by the VIPD as a “Dignity Security Officer.”

The St. Thomas-based law enforcement officer was also a member of the Executive Security Unit in the de Jongh administration, assigned to Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis at that time. His current assignment with Mapp is as security officer and driver for Government House Special Assistant Juel T. Molloy.

On September 3, The U.S. Attorney has asked the federal court to hold two people in custody after authorities say they used their security clearances at King Airport on St. Thomas to smuggle more than 17 pounds of cocaine to the continental United States.

The two — Roniqua Hart and Taheeda George — were arrested Thursday by Special Agent Michael Day on warrants signed and sealed Aug. 31 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller.

Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) executive director Carlton “Ital” Dowe denied that his organization has any involvement in the schemes. VIPA runs the airport and seaport facilities on all three islands for the local government.

The Chesterfield case is being investigated by law enforcement officials from CBP, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith.

mapp walrus

TELL IT TO THE JUDGE: “There is a very reasonable explanation for all of this. If you’ll just let me explain.”

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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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