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Dominican Republic Native Gets 10 Years In Prison For Bringing 13 Pounds of Cocaine


CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A Dominican Republic native was given 10 years in prison by a federal judge for bringing nearly 13 pounds of cocaine to the territory.

U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez re-sentenced Tomas Liriano Castillo, 44, to 121 months (10.0833 years) in prison followed by four years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and six months in prison for illegal entry, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

Judge Gomez also ordered Castillo to pay a $210 special assessment and complete 300 hours of community service.

According to the evidence presented at trial, on May 9, 2016, Castillo traveled by boat from Tortola to Hull Bay, in St. Thomas with a back pack containing cocaine.

After Castillo got off the boat with the back pack, he tried to discard the backpack when he saw agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approaching him.

Testimony at trial further established that when the back pack was recovered, it contained approximately 5.8 kilograms (12.79 pounds) of cocaine, and that Castillo was not in the Virgin Islands lawfully. Castillo appealed unsuccessfully to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in New Jersey. Although, the Third Circuit affirmed the convictions, it noted an error in the sentence and demanded re-sentencing.

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

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte.

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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