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Dominican National Convicted of Smuggling Nearly 13 Pounds Of Cocaine Into St. Thomas

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A 44-year-old native of the Dominican Republic was convicted in federal court of trying to smuggle 12.78 pounds of cocaine into St. Thomas

After a one-day trial, on October 4, 2016, a federal jury on St. Thomas found Tomas Liriano Castillo guilty of Conspiracy to Possess a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver and Illegal Entry, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

Castillo faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison on the conspiracy and possession with intent charges, and six months in prison for the illegal entry charge, Sharpe said.

District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez remanded Castillo to the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing on February 2, 2017.

Evidence presented at trial established that on or about May 9, 2016, Castillo traveled by boat from Tortola to Hull Bay, St. Thomas. The evidence at trial also showed that Castillo got off the boat with a back pack that he tried to discard when he saw agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration approaching him.

Testimony at trial further established that when the back pack was recovered, it contained approximately 5.8 kilograms of cocaine, and that Castillo is not in the Virgin Islands lawfully.

The case was investigated by the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte and Everard Potter.

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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