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When St. Croix’s Ivan James ‘Went Cowboy’ In Drug Operation He Exposed Whole Crew To Feds Scrutiny: USAO

CHARLOTTE AMALIE –– A St. Croix female airport employee and four men heard the formal reading of the drug trafficking conspiracy charges against them in federal court six days ago, authorities said.

Ivan James, Kai James, Joh Williams, Malachi Benjamin and Tillisa Caesar appeared on Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller for arraignment on a twenty-count superseding indictment charging drug conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and possession of firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Magistrate Miller remanded Ivan James, Williams and Benjamin pending their detention hearings on Thursday.

Ivan James on St. Croix.

Caesar was previously detained on separate drug trafficking conspiracy charges, and Kai James was placed on home confinement. According to court records, Ivan James and Kai James were alleged leaders of a large-scale drug trafficking organization that operated on St. Croix.

Federal law enforcement first discovered the organization’s existence during a 2013 investigation, which revealed that Ivan James was smuggling narcotics into the Golden Grove Correctional Facility on St. Croix with the aid of a now-deceased V.I. Bureau of Corrections (BOC) officer.

According to reports, Joh Williams, who was incarcerated at Golden Grove, distributed the narcotics on behalf of James.

Thereafter, in July 2015, Ivan James directed his associates to rob a rival drug dealer of several kilograms of cocaine at gunpoint.

The investigation continued with the execution of a search warrant at the James family compound located at 239 Estate La Grange on St. Croix, where federal agents recovered over 1,000 marijuana plants and one half kilogram (1.10 pounds) of cocaine.

During the search, federal agents also recovered four pistols and one AR-15 rifle together with a large cache of ammunition.

The investigation culminated with the seizure of an additional four pistols, one AK 47 rifle and approximately 24 kilograms of marijuana that were concealed and shipped in a commercial freezer from Miami, FL to St. Croix via Paradise Freight Shipping on February 28, 2019.

The superseding indictment charges all five with drug conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute narcotics.

In addition, Ivan James, Kai James and Benjamin are charged with possession of firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Benjamin is also charged in a separate indictment with possession with intent to distribute cocaine after a vehicle for which he was a passenger was stopped and searched by Virgin Islands Police Officers on St. Croix.

Malachi Benjamin on St. Croix.

Benjamin allegedly fled the scene after officers asked him about his involvement in the 2019 double homicides at the Cockpit Coliseum on St. Croix.

In charging documents, Caesar is referred to as an airport employee from St. Croix. She was charged with smuggling bricks of cocaine onto commercial flights to the U.S. mainland.

Court documents alternatively spell her name as “Tallissa Caesar” and “Tallisa Caesar,” and a Facebook account for a St. Croix woman named “Tillisa Caesar” identifies her as a “former ticketing and passenger service agent for American Airlines at WFS — Worldwide Flight Services.”

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith.

Shappert said 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 unless found guilty,” she said.

An airport employee from St. Croix has been charged with smuggling bricks of cocaine onto commercial flights to the mainland, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Charging documents alternatively spell the woman’s name as “Tallissa Caesar” and “Tallisa Caesar,” and a Facebook account for a St. Croix woman named “Tillisa Caesar” identifies her as a “former ticketing and passenger service agent for American Airlines at WFS — Worldwide Flight Services.”

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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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