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Puerto Rican Man With $3.75 Million On Boat For St. Thomas Gets 3 Years In Prison

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Puerto Rican man who smuggled $3.75 million worth of cash aboard a boat at night into St. Thomas was given 3.33 years in prison by a federal judge, authorities said.

Jerry Amil Kirkland-Marrero, 31, of San Juan, was sentenced today to 40 months imprisonment, followed by 30 months of supervised release, for conspiracy to conceal more than $100,000 on board a vessel outfitted for smuggling, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to court documents, Kirkland-Marrero was one of three occupants on a vessel that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (CBP AMO) interdicted in the waters near Brewers Bay, St. Thomas,, on the night of April 21, 2020. The vessel was stopped after agents noticed it entering the area without its lights illuminated. As CBO AMO initiated a stop of the vessel, agents observed the vessel’s occupants throwing duffle bags overboard.

The agents recovered three duffle bags from the water, as well as a fourth bag that one of the occupants had been in the process of trying to throw overboard when the agents boarded the vessel. Each of the duffle bags contained vacuum sealed bundles of U.S. currency, with a combined total value of approximately $3,765,740 in U.S. currency. One of the bags was equipped with a GPS tracker.

Court documents said that, while on release pending resolution of this case, Kirkland-Marrero’s two co-defendants were fatally gunned down in Puerto Rico.

“Am surprised by the headline $3.75???,” Shappert told the Virgin Islands Free Press at 8:16 a.m. today. “It was $3.75 million. Thank you..”

An earlier version of this V.I. Free Press article on Tuesday afternoon contained a typo in which the word “million” was briefly left off.

The V.I. Freep apologizes for the minutes-long headline error. The body of the article always contained the full and correct information.

VIYA Internet service was down for portions of Tuesday, preventing a quicker response to the error.

Ms. Shappert used all capital letters in her email message to the Virgin Islands Free Press today.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith J. Edwards prosecuted the case. The case was 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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

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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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