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Dominican Heroin Dealer Pleads Guilty To Illegally Re-Entering The U.S. Virgin Islands

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Dominican Republic man previously deported after being convicted of heroin possession pleaded guilty this week to illegally re-entering the territory, authorities said.

Timoteo Upia-Frias, 74, of Santo Domingo, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Ruth Miller and pleaded guilty to one count of illegally re-entering the United States, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said today.

According to court documents, Upia-Frias was discovered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents living in a neighborhood on St. Thomas while conducting a “surge” operation targeting undocumented immigrants in the United States Virgin Islands.

The surge operation by Enforcement and Removal Operations Officers led to the discovery of multiple undocumented immigrants, including Upia-Frias, who had returned the same area where he lived and worked in at the time of his 2007 arrest.

Criminal and immigration records confirmed that on September 6, 2016, Upia-Frias was removed from the United States by ICE agents and returned to his native country, the Dominican Republic, following his felony conviction in the District Court of the United States in 2008 for possessing with intent to distribute heroin.

Upia-Frias pleaded guilty to illegal reentry pursuant to 8 U.S.C § 1326 and now faces up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors at a sentencing hearing to be scheduled later.

Prior to his court datee, Upia-Frias was being held without bail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico,

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of the Virgin Islands and investigated by HSI and ICE.

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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