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Colombians Bringing 1,335 Pounds Of Marijuana To St. Thomas Cited By The Feds

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Two men from Bogata were stopped at sea in Caribbean waters with 1,335 pounds of marijuana, authorities said.

Centeno A. Hansel-Andres and Cristian Valencia-Mendoza were charged with conspiracy to possess and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

The court filings allege that the two South American men were on board a go-fast style vessel that was intercepted by a United States Coast Guard (USCG) cutter while on routine patrol.

The USCG first sighted the go-fast vessel on October 18 at approximately 45 nautical miles north of Malpelo Island in Columbia.

The vessel did not have any display indicating its nationality. The USCG boarded the vessel and successfully seized 21 bales of marijuana, consisting of approximately 1,355 pounds, and arrested the two people on board.

This case is being investigated by the United States Coast Guard and the Virgin Islands Drug Enforcement Agency.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adam Sleeper and Donna Rainwater.

United States Attorney Shappert reminds the public that an indictment is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt.

“Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.” she said.

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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