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Two Dominicans Face 10 Years In Prison After Guilty Pleas To Trafficking 2,204 Pounds of Cocaine Here

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – Two of three Dominican Republic nationals admitted in federal court to their roles in bringing 2,204 pounds of cocaine to the region.

Edwin Vargas, 31, and Lennin Cornelio-Perez, 32, each of Santo Domingo, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess a controlled substance on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to court documents, a United States Coast Guard (USCG) aircraft detected a gofast style vessel with no indicia of nationality located about 65 nautical miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After being detected, the go-fast vessel led authorities on a ten-hour chase in international waters between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

USCG personnel were able to board the vessel when it finally went dead in the water approximately 96 nautical miles north of St. Thomas.

Upon boarding the vessel, authorities discovered Vargas, Cornelio-Perez, and co-defendant PerezBrito, along with 52 bales containing a total of approximately 1,132 kilograms of a white powdery substance that field tested positive for cocaine.

In pleading guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez, Vargas and Cornelio-Perez each admitted to having conspired to transport the cocaine by boat from Venezuela to Puerto Rico, with Vargas admitting to having been the boat’s captain and Cornelio-Perez admitting to having served as the boat’s mechanic.

Vargas and Cornelio-Perez face mandatory minimum sentences of ten years’ imprisonment, five-year term of supervised release, and a fines of up to $10,000,000, respectively.

This case is being investigated by the USCG, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Meredith J. Edwards.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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