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Contractor Who Stashed 10 Pounds of Cocaine Into Airport Bathroom Pleads

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A contractor who stashed 10 pounds of cocaine into an airport bathroom in St. Thomas has pleaded guilty in federal court to drug possession charges, authorities said.

Keilin Lopez-Lopez, 22, a resident of St. Thomas, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute approximately 4.6 kilograms of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said. 

According to court documents, on July 31, 2020 at approximately 6:30 p.m., a Virgin Islands Port Authority employee witnessed a male tampering with a trashcan in a stall in the male restroom located inside the Cyril E. King terminal. 

Officers removed the trashcan from the wall, revealing an open recess in between both sides of the interior wall. One large, brick-shaped bundle and one small, brick-shaped bundle containing approximately 4.6 kilograms of cocaine was lying at the bottom of the recess where the trashcan was previously inserted. 

Airport surveillance footage showed a male, later identified as Keilin Lopez Lopez, wearing a backpack enter the bathroom where the bundles were discovered. 

Officers located Lopez who is an employee for a company contracted to work on the airport remodel. After being advised of his constitutional rights, Lopez waived them and stated he removed the trashcan from the wall in the restroom stall and placed the bundles inside the wall. 

Lopez faces up to 40 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000,000.00. A sentencing date will be set by the Court. 

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Juan Albino. 

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. 

Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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