Two BVI cocaine smugglers get nearly 5 years in prison

Two BVI cocaine smugglers get nearly 5 years in prison

CHRISTIANSTED – Two British Virgin Islands citizens who were caught smuggling 1,470 pounds of cocaine on a boat near St. Croix got nearly five years in prison from a federal judge.

Emmanuel Tolentino-Lebron, 22, and Shannon John, 37, each of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, were sentenced to 57 months incarceration after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to
distribute cocaine, U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith said.

U.S. District Judge Wilma A. Lewis also ordered the two Road Town residents to serve two years of supervised release and pay a $100 special assessment,

According to court documents, on January 9, 2022, Customs and Border Protection Air and
Marine Unit detected a vessel with bales of cocaine in plain view on the deck of the vessel traveling
on the northeast side of St. Croix. Agents intercepted the 32-foot Manta low-profile vessel operating
in international waters in an area known by law enforcement for drug trafficking.

The vessel displayed no indicia of nationality, no flag, no registration documents, and was determined to be a vessel without nationality, thus subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

On board, agents discovered 21 bales wrapped in dark colored plastic wrap and encased in rope, along with Shannon John, Sean John, Emmanuel Tolentino-Lebron, all of the BVI, and Augusto Rodriguez-Molina of the Dominican Republic.

A total of 567 kilograms of cocaine were seized from the 21 bales discovered on the vessel. For their roles in the cocaine smuggling operation, both Tolentino-Lebron and Rodriguez-Molina admitted that they would receive $5,000.00 each as payment, while Sean John admitted that he would receive $100,000.00, and Shannon John admitted that he would receive $60,000.00.

Rodriguez-Molina and Sean John were sentenced on April 8, 2023, and April 8, 2024.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It was prosecuted by Assistant
U.S. Attorneys Melissa Ortiz and Rhonda Williams-Henry.