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Horseman With Illegal Drug Connections Shot Dead At His BVI Home: Royal Police

ROAD TOWN, Tortola — A prominent British Virgin Islands businessman and horse owner was shot dead outside his home on Tuesday night, according to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.

The killing of Earl “Bob” Hodge on Tortola’s southeast coast comes just six days after the slaying of another horseman in the BVI’s first homicide for the year.

“Police can confirm that one man is dead as a result of a shooting incident at his residence in Hannah’s Estate around 8 p.m. last night,” BVI police spokeswoman Diane Drayton said Wednesday.

She identified the victim as Earl Hodge of Hannah’s Estate, noting that “no one else was injured in the incident.”

Horse racing enthusiast

Hodge and his wife, Violet Hodge, owned L&B Stables and the prized race horse, Actspectation, which dominated horse racing in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands in the early 2000s. Actspectation won his first race on Dec. 26, 2000, and went on the dominate races on Tortola, St. Thomas and St. Croix including a 19-race winning streak. Actspectation won the Premier’s Cup in the BVI five times between 2001 and 2005, before losing to Captain Slew in 2006. Actspectation, who also won the Governor’s Cup in the USVI and ran in 40 races before retiring in 2007. He made a short-lived comeback in 2009 before ending his career.

Michael Hodge (right) lifts Earl Hodge’s hand after Actspectation returns after two-year absence to win a race. o

Last December, Hodge and his wife — a former BVI Horse Racing Association president — sponsored the opening 4 Furlongs Boxing Day match race. In September 2016, she was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted in the BVI on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine.

Legal problems

Hodge also had been in trouble with the law, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made three unsuccessful attempts to extradite him.

In August 2011, Hodge, then 51, and five other area men including then BVI Customs Officer Roberto Harrigan, were among 13 people charged in a 19-count indictment in connection with drug smuggling, the DEA noted in a statement at the time.

The others were Samuel Javier of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Juan Figueroa-Valdez, Carlston Beazer and Chad Skelton, all from the British Virgin Islands.

According to the 2011 indictment, the defendants were among a group who conspired to fly hundreds of pounds of cocaine from Aure, Venezuela, to the British Virgin Islands on multiple flights. On arrival in the BVI, the cocaine was dropped into the ocean and the co-conspirators then used fast boats to retrieve the cocaine from the Caribbean, with the intent that the drugs would later be distributed in the United States, the DEA said in an indictment.

Hodge, Beazer, Skelton and Harrigan were eventually released from BVI police custody in 2015, after spending more than three years behind bars trying to fight extradition requests in court. The four initially faced local charges, but they were later dropped by the BVI prosecutor to instead pursue the unsuccessful extradition.

The Daily News was unable to determine the outcome of Figueroa-Valdez’s case, but in 2017, Hodge and Harrigan were arrested on new warrants issued by the U.S. Justice Department.

Earl “Bob” Hodge of Hannah’s Estate, Tortola, BVI (BVI News photo)

According to published reports, Hodge later was granted $1 million bail and Harrigan was granted bail set at $600,000.

In June 2018, and following an appeal, a BVI judge ruled against extradition for Hodge and Harrigan. Then in July 2018, another judge ruled in their favor after they appealed a third try at extradition

That ruling came seven years after their July 2011 indictment in Miami, and one month shy of the seven-year anniversary of their arrests in the BVI.

Hodge is the second BVI horseman to be killed this year after Ronald Simmonds was gunned down at his Threadfall home a week ago today in what police described as a “tragic isolated incident.” The alleged shooter committed suicide in Carrot Bay.

Dryaton said Wednesday that police are asking anyone with information that can assist homicide detectives to call 284-368-9339.

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