CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Two Puerto Rican men who smuggled $1,680,000 in cash by sea into St. Thomas have been given one year in prison — and forfeited their ill-gotten gains.
Jesus Lebron Pinto, 29, and Geraldo Morales, 29, each of San Juan, were sentenced to 12 months and one day incarceration for their convictions on conspiracy to conceal more than $100,000.00
on a vessel outfitted for smuggling, U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith said.
According to court documents, on April 7, 2021, United States Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine officers were conducting border security patrols at Stumpy Beach on the west end of St. Thomas.
During patrol, officers observed a wake in the ocean and the sound of a boat engine approaching Stumpy Beach.
Officers also observed a silver Ford Explorer with dark tinted windows on land traveling in the area of Stumpy Beach. Officers approached the driver of the Ford Explorer who fled on foot leaving behind three large, wet black bags in the trunk of the vehicle.
The bags contained approximately $1.68 million dollars in United States currency which was administratively forfeited. Pinto and Morales were later apprehended after jumping from the vessel.
This case was investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Everard Potter and Adam Sleeper.