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4 Venezuelans found dripping wet in a field after abandoning boat with $77M worth of cocaine

4 Venezuelans found dripping wet in a field after abandoning boat with $77M worth of cocaine

CHRISTIANSTED — Four Venezuelans have been charged with drug smuggling after they were found dripping wet in a Carlton field after abandoning their boat with $77 million worth of cocaine on it.

Daniel Marval-Navarro, Desael Carreno-Carreno, Felix Jose Bermudez, and Luis Lugo-Marval were each charged with possession with intent to distribute 2,700 kilograms of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith said.

According to court documents, on February 11, 2024, at approximately 11:00 p.m., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detected a suspicious vessel traveling at approximately 67 nautical miles south of St. Croix.

The United States Coast Guard, assisted by the British Royal Navy, attempted to intercept the suspicious vessel, at which point the occupants on board the vessel began jettisoning bales of suspected narcotics overboard.

On February 12, 2024, at approximately 3:00 a.m., vessel landed at Long Point, St. Croix. Its occupants, later identified as Daniel Marval-Navarro, Desael Carreno-Carreno, Felix Jose Bermudez, and Luis Lugo-Marval, were taken into custody after they were observed walking in an open field in Estate Carlton wearing dripping wet clothing.

Agents recovered the vessel and 74 bales containing 2,100 kilograms of cocaine. The United States Coast Guard later recovered an additional 26 bales which contained over 600 kilograms of cocaine.

Based on estimates by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, the street value of 2,700 kilograms of cocaine in excess of $77 million.

U.S. Attorney Smith commended the joint efforts of Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Coast Guard, the British Royal Navy, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Virgin Islands Police Department “for their diligent and unwavering effort in apprehending four individuals charged.”

“We continue to work closely with our Border Protection partners to dismantle transnational
criminal organizations responsible for smuggling narcotics into the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Gonzalez-Ramos said.

“The shared resolve between the Coast Guard and our local, federal and regional partners in interdicting major drug smuggling activities in the high seas is instrumental to safeguarding our citizens in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the nation’s southernmost maritime border, from this threat,” said Capt. José Díaz, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan Commander.”

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Agent in Charge Denise Foster said, “We will continue to work with our counterparts and allocate all our law enforcement resources to make a greater impact in vulnerable areas where criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking are causing greater damage.”

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) and the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD). It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Rikhye.

U.S. Attorney Smith said that a criminal complaint is merely an allegation and that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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