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Puerto Rican Man Who Brought 156 Pounds Of Coke To St. Croix Gets 3.8 years In Prison

CHRISTIANSTED – A native of Puerto Rico will spend about 3.83 years behind bars after admitting to bringing 156 pounds of cocaine to the waters off of St. Croix.

Carmelo Cruz-Velez, 52 of San Juan was sentenced to 46 months in prison for conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

U.S. District Court Judge Raymond L. Finch of St. Croix also sentenced Cruz-Velez to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a fine of $2,000 along with a special assessment of $100, Sharpe said.

Before 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 71 kilograms of cocaine and brought it to St. Croix.

The amount 71 kilos is the equivalent of 156.528 pounds.

Afterward, Cruz-Velez, knowing of the plan, took possession of the cocaine and delivered it to another individual for transshipment to Puerto Rico.

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

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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