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Two More Venezuelan Nationals Plead Guilty To Marijuana Smuggling … Face 40 Years In Prison

CHRISTIANSTED – Two more Venezuelan nationals admitted in federal court today that they tried to smuggle at least 357 pounds of marijuana into the region.

Jesus Garcia, 35, and Jhoan Gomez, 28, each pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of possession of a controlled substance on board a vessel, United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

This federal offense carries a possible sentence of up to 40 years in prison, a maximum fine of up to $5,000,000 dollars, and a term of supervised release of at least two years. Sentencing is set for December 14, 2018.

According to court documents, on May 8, 2017, at approximately 7:50 p.m., a Joint InterAgency Task Force South Patrol Aircraft located a northbound go-fast vessel (GFV) approximately 105 nautical miles west of Martinique.

The vessel was located in a known drug trafficking route. It contained multiple fuel barrels and suspicious packages visible on deck. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley was directed to intercept the vessel.

Upon arrival, the crew of the GFV were observed tossing the suspicious packages and fuel barrels overboard.

Ultimately, the crew of the Cutter Donald Horsley recovered 8 bound packages, which contained about 162 kilograms (357 pounds) of marijuana. The defendants were two of the seven Venezuelan national crew on board the go-fast boat.

Co-defendant Juan Rodriguez previously entered a guilty plea on August 13, 2018. This means three of the seven crew members have pled guilty to federal marijuana-smuggling related charges.

The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Huston.

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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