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St. Croix Woman Who Hid Pot In Hello Kitty Blanket Convicted At Trial

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A St. Croix woman who tried to fool Customs agents by hiding 13 pounds of marijuana in a Hello Kitty blanket stuffed into two suitcases was convicted on drug smuggling charges in St. Thomas on Wednesday, authorities said.

Raquel Rivera was convicted in U.S. District Court on charges related to smuggling marijuana into St. Thomas, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to evidence presented at trial, Rivera was stopped on April 22, 2020 at the Cyril E. King airport after arriving on St. Thomas from Miami, FL. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers then searched the luggage she was carrying, including one suitcase checked in Rivera’s name and one checked in the name of someone else. Inside, officers found 12 identical, vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana concealed in various items of clothing, including jeans, towels, and a Hello Kitty blanket.

In total, Rivera had nearly six kilograms of marijuana in each suitcase, and when interviewed by officers that day she gave conflicting accounts of what was in the suitcases and who packed them.

Meanwhile, people on social media pointed out that many recent convicted marijuana smugglers have been sentenced to no jail time.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Natasha Baker and Nathan Brooks.

The investigation into Rivera was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation.

OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Rivera will be sentenced at a later date, according to Shappert.

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