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2 St. Thomas Men Charged With Smuggling 463 Pounds Of Cocaine By Sea At Night

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Two St. Thomas men face criminal charges after allegedly trying to bring at least 463 pounds of cocaine into the territory by sea, authorities said.

Russell Robinson and Trevor Stephen appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller on a criminal complaint Tuesday, charging the men with conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to court documents, at about 10:15 p.m. Monday, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) air patrol detected a vessel between Cruz Bay and Charlotte Amalie, heading towards St. Thomas, that was traveling without its lights illuminated.

AMO agents on board the aircraft observed the boat headed towards Vessup Beach, where the agents then observed two people on the vessel unload duffle bags from the boat to two people in a Toyota Tundra truck. The air patrol agents provided updates on the truck’s route to agents on land, who attempted to initiate a stop of the truck near the waterfront.

In response to the agents’ lights and sirens, the truck fled, travelling towards Hull Bay, where it then headed up a one-way road into a small residential area. While agents set up a perimeter at the entrance of the one-way, the AMO aircraft maintained its surveillance of the truck and observed as the passenger threw the duffle bags from the truck.

When the truck returned to the entrance of the one-way, agents stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver, identified as Russell Robinson, and the passenger, identified as Trevor Stephen. Agents then retrieved the seven duffle bags that the AMO air patrol agents observed the passenger unload. The duffle bags contained a total of approximately 210 kilograms (462.971 pounds) of a substance that field-tested positive for cocaine.

On December 3, 2021, Stephen and Robinson appeared before Judge Miller for a preliminary hearing and detention hearing. Both defendants were released to the custody of a third-party custodian and placed on house arrest pending the resolution of the matter.

Meanwhile, people across the Virgin Islands reacted to this news article on social media.

“Wondered why that little boat has been at Coast Guard dock all week LOL. Now I know,” Nikki Thompson said from St. Thomas.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, and the Drug Enforcement Administration are investigating the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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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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