Sept. 20, 2004 Thanks to St. John's East End Neighborhood Watch, law enforcement officials arrested a man who allegedly squatted in a vacant vacation cottage and apprehended a dozen alleged illegal aliens.
The illegal alien story is still unfolding, but East End resident Terry McKoy said someone picked up four of the illegal aliens in a blue van Monday morning. Another eight were still wandering along the road.
"We call each other when we see people on the road," McKoy said of his neighbors.
Since illegal aliens are an ongoing problem in this remote corner of St. John, neighbors are on the lookout.
As McKoy talked to a reporter at midday, he said he and his neighbors were keeping an eye on those walking along the road. He expected the police to arrive shortly to pick them up.
He said the neighbors have often noticed a strange car in the area. They think the driver transports the illegal aliens elsewhere.
Police Sgt. Thomas Hannah put the number of illegal aliens at eight. He said they were charged with illegal entry and turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Hannah said it appears the boat that dropped off the illegal aliens in St. John accompanied a vessel that dropped off another 15 at Jack's Bay in St. Croix.
He said the St. Croix boat hailed from Dominica, and the illegal aliens came from Haiti, Cuba, Dominica, and St. Vincent. While he did not have the nationalities for those discovered in St. John, he said it was probably similar to those in St. Croix.
The East End Neighborhood Watch also put its collective eye to good use on Sept. 16 when members spotted lights on in what they thought was a vacant beachfront vacation cottage.
McKoy said that when he noticed someone was in the cottage, he called the two neighbors closest to the building. One of the neighbors recognized the person as Dwayne Herelle, who lived on the Cruz Bay end of the island, so the neighbor called the police.
As they waited for the police to arrive, an East End resident they didn't recognize from afar struck up a conversation with the man. Thinking this was a group operation, the Neighborhood Watch members moved in to make a citizen's arrest.
"We didn't know when the police were going to get here," McKoy said.
Hannah said Monday that Herelle was charged with third degree burglary and transported to St. Thomas Jail.
Hannah said Herelle was homeless. He did not know his age, but said it was between 26 and 35.
McKoy said neighbors are still concerned because it appears Herelle got a ride out to the East End since he brought a lot of clothes with him. They worry that someone sees the area as easy pickings.
Herelle had stashed his clothes in the closets, made up the beds, rearranged some of the furniture, and had taken some knickknacks and kitchen items to the nearby Dumpster.
Hannah said the cottage incident showed that neighborhood watches do work.
The East End Neighborhood Watch formed after armed gunmen robbed a couple in mid-August. (See "Coral Bay Council Looking at Neighborhood Watch").
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