Feds Break Up Florida To St. Thomas Gun And Drug Trafficking Operation
SAN JUAN — Two men — one in Florida and one in St. Thomas — have been caught up in a cocaine and illegal gun trafficking ring between the mainland and the territory, authorities said.
And the man charged in the U.S. Virgin Islands was blatantly promising $150 a day on social media to territorial residents who wanted to join him on his Scarab Offshore “fishing expeditions.”
U.S. Postal Service workers conducting a routine inspection in Puerto Rico intercepted a Glock handgun and ammunition that was being shipped to St. Thomas, according to WCJB-TV in Florida.
Angel Roberto Martinez-Cruz, 27, of Ocala who has been charged with five federal drug and gun charges, including selling firearms to an unauthorized person and shipping the package from Florida, U.S. District Court records indicate.
Clarence Smith, Jr., who picked up the package on St. Thomas, has been charged with two violations of federal law governing shipment of firearms, and one count of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
The case began on October 22 when postal inspectors screened the package and subsequently obtained a federal search warrant to open it, according to a sworn affidavit filed by a U.S. Postal Inspector.
Inside, inspectors said they found a Glock 26 Gen 4 handgun and two magazines with approximately 34 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, “hidden within vacuum sealer machines,” according to the affidavit. The package also contained “vacuum sealed bags, one pack of carbon papers, and two vacuum sealer machines,” which the inspector said are often used by drug traffickers to package narcotics.
According to the inspector, “it is common for drug traffickers to maintain and transport firearms through the U.S. Mail in order to protect their drug supply and/or proceeds of their drug sales.”
The package was addressed to 44-year-old Clarence Smith of Bolongo Bay, with a return address of “Roberto Martinez,” in Ocala, and had been mailed from that city in Florida, postal investigators said.
The package was subsequently mailed from San Juan on October 23 to St. Thomas so federal agents could continue the investigation.
Smith went to the Charlotte Amalie post office on October 30 and asked for the parcel, showing employees the tracking number on his phone, according to court documents.
Postal workers told him they’d contact him when they located it, and Smith returned on November 16 and retrieved the package, according to the affidavit. When he left the lobby with the package, law enforcement agents arrested him.
Smith was released on November 18 after signing an unsecured $15,000 bond.
The grand jury returned an indictment against Smith and Martinez-Cruz on December 3, which was not made public until after Martinez-Cruz was arrested in Florida on December 16.
Martinez-Cruz made his initial court appearance in Florida and is scheduled to appear for arraignment in the St. Thomas District Court on January 6.
Meanwhile, people in St. Thomas seemed eager on Facebook to join Smith’s “boat crew.”
“What are you waiting for?” Tracia Best said. “Take advantage of this opportunity 100 percent legit invest in yourself ask Clarence Smith, Jr. how you can earn an extra income.”
“I am excited to say that this business has done wonders for me,” Melissa Callender said. “I am earning good money and don’t have to put in much effort to benefit. Simply amazing!”
“Good job for the hard core ni#@as (expletive deleted),” Yungzy Gh added.