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3 Puerto Ricans With 11 Pounds Of Cocaine On Boat Arrested In St. Thomas

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Three Puerto Rican men were arrested on December 29, 2021 in St. Thomas on criminal charges related to trying to bring at least 11 pounds of cocaine into the territory.

According to court documents, on December 29, 2021, Pedro Juan Ramos-Ramirez, Johny Arias Rodriguez, and Gerald Albert Cruz were on-board a vessel in United States customs waters that was traveling at night without navigation lights. Agents from United States Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (“CBP-AMO”) activated their vessel’s blue emergency lights, siren, and navigation lights.

Two passengers on the vessel then began throwing bags overboard. Once the passengers finished throwing the bags overboard, the operator of their vessel began to vary his speed and maneuver the vessel wildly, attempting to evade the CBP-AMO agents.

The agents rendered the engine on the individuals’ vessel inoperable. The three individuals on the vessel were then taken into custody. A subsequent search located three black duffel bags containing seventy-five kilogram packages of cocaine.

The three men are charged with possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine on a covered vessel, and conspiracy to commit the same offense, in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 70503(a)(1) & 46 U.S.C. § 70506(b). If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Here’s some of the commentary by Virgin Islands Free Press readers on social media.

“When will they learn that radar doesn’t give a s#$% about navigation lights?” Andy Young said. “Red flag! Hi speed in daylight is a bit easier to swallow. Idjits.”

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

CBP-AMO and Homeland Security Investigations are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Sleeper is prosecuting the case.

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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

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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