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St. Thomas To Pittsburgh To Detroit Heroin-Cocaine Ring Leaders Plead Guilty In Federal Court

GUILTY PLEA: Kinia Blyden

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – Eleven people admitted in federal court that they participated in a drug trafficking and money laundering operation between St. Thomas, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Five defendants pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez to drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

Dellana Magner, 23, and Kinia Blyden, 23, both of St. Thomas, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Rasheem Morton, 36, of St. Thomas; Monique David, 40, of St. Thomas, and Te’Nae George, 23, of St. Thomas, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy, Sharpe said.

The following individuals also pleaded guilty to cocaine possession on January 23, 2017, before Judge Gomez: Nilda Morton, 32, of St. Thomas; Vanier Murraine, 34, a native of St. Thomas and resident of Detroit; Christopher Butler, 30, and Drue Williams, III, 35, of Twinsburgh, Ohio; and Taheeda George, 37, and Roniqua Hart, 24, of St. Thomas.

All defendants were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals pending sentencing on June 1, 2017. According to the plea agreements filed with the court, from October 2015 through July 2016, Nilda Morton, the leader of the drug trafficking organization, supplied cocaine to Vanier Murraine utilizing Delta Airlines employees Taheeda George and Roniqua Hart.

The Delta employees then used their security clearances at the Cyril E. King International Airport to smuggle cocaine to Dellana Magner, Kanya Tirado, Kinia Blyden, and Jerrisha Rawlins after they had completed their pre-boarding security clearances, but before they boarded their commercial flights to the U.S. mainland.

On three occasions between June and July 2016, airport security surveillance footage captured the defendants in the public restroom removing vacuum-sealed packages of cocaine from their bodies and placing them in the couriers’ carry-on bags before they boarded their flights.

After the cocaine was sold stateside, Nilda Morton arranged for her brother, Rasheem Morton, Dellana Magner, Te’Nae George, Kinia Blyden, Jerrisha Rawlins, Roniqua Hart and Monique David to transport the cash proceeds back to St. Thomas, where she took possession of the money.

The investigation culminated on July 1, 2016, with the arrest of Dellana Magner after she smuggled three kilograms of cocaine onboard an American Airlines flight destined for Miami.

This case is the result of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Pittsburgh, New York, Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Thomas.

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

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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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