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USAO: St. Thomas Man Accused Of Mailing Cocaine To New York Disguised In Cellophane Candy Bags

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A St. Thomas man appeared before a federal magistrate to hear charges that he shipped cocaine from here through the U.S. mail disguised as cellophane candy.

Kemo Riley, 42, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller for preliminary and detention hearings after federal agents arrested him on Friday for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

Following the hearings, Judge Miller released Riley on a $5,000 bond with conditions requiring location monitoring and home confinement outside of work.

According to court documents, on May 28, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in San Juan, Puerto Rico seized a parcel with approximately 515.4 grams of cocaine concealed in cellophane candy bags.

The parcel was destined for Dunkirk, New York, and had been mailed from the Ottley Post Office in St. Thomas that same day. The parcel also contained a greeting card and party plates, as well as a receipt reflecting the purchase of the same from Kmart in St. Thomas.

The parcel was sent back to the sender. Surveillance video obtained from the Ottley Post Office captured a black male wearing a white shirt, black jacket, and black hat mailing the parcel.

The same man appeared to be captured on Kmart surveillance video approximately one hour earlier, purchasing the items found inside the parcel with the cocaine.

The parcel was made available for pick up by the sender on June 13, 2019. The next day, Riley drove an individual to the Ottley Post Office who presented the tracking number for the parcel while Riley waited for him outside in the car.

Federal agents recognized Riley to be the same man captured on surveillance video purchasing the party supplies and mailing the parcel.

During an interview with agents, Riley admitted that he had, in fact, purchased those items and mailed the parcel.

Shappert reminds the public that a criminal indictment is merely a formal charging document and is not in and of itself evidence of guilt.

“Every defendant is presumed innocent until and February unless proven guilty,” she said.

This case was investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and United States Postal Inspection Service.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Edwards.

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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 50 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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