Federal law enforcement authorities on Monday revealed more details about the arrest of a member of Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp’s security detail who was detained for possession of almost 48 pounds of cocaine with intent to distribute.
As reported Sunday, 37-year-old Neal Chesterfield, a Virgin Islands Port Authority officer assigned to the Government House Executive Security Unit, was arrested Saturday afternoon at the Cyril E. King Airport and charged with possession of approximately 21½ kilograms of cocaine. Chesterfield, who was attempting to board a commercial flight from St. Thomas to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he was arrested, made an initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller and was remanded to federal custody pending trial.
A criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court shed more light on the circumstances that led to Chesterfield being taken into custody.
“A Customs and Border Protection K-9 alerted agents to the presence of narcotics in Chesterfield’s carry-on luggage while he was awaiting a flight in the Spirit Airlines gate area. Chesterfield used his law enforcement credentials to bypass TSA screening and was about to board Spirit Flight 212 to Fort Lauderdale,” according to a news release issued by U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe.
Upon inspection of Chesterfield’s luggage, CBP officers discovered 18 plastic wrapped packages, the contents of which tested positive for the presence of cocaine. The packages weighed 21.44 kilograms, or about 47 pounds. (A kilogram equals approximately 2.2 pounds.) Federal agents also discovered $26,025 dollars in cash inside a small computer bag in Chesterfield’s possession, Sharpe added.
Court documents filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Michael Kean said Chesterfield originally told authorities that both the carry-on bag that contained the illegal narcotics and the small computer bag with the cash both belonged to him. Later, during an interrogation, Chesterfield told authorities he must have inadvertently picked up someone’s carry-on suitcase and that the suitcase in his possession was not his.
Chesterfield said he must have mistakenly taken the wrong carry-on suitcase while at the Spirit Airlines ticket counter area. Chesterfield told authorities that the more than $26,000 in his possession came from the sale of a car and motorcycle.
Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration are jointly investigating the case. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith.
Chesterfield joined the Executive Security Unit during the de Jongh administration and was assigned at that time to the lieutenant governor. Since January 2015, he remained with the unit but has served as a driver and bodyguard for Government House Special Assistant Juel Molloy.
Neither Government House, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, which employs Chesterfield, or the Virgin Islands Police Department, which has oversight of the officers assigned to the Executive Security Unit, have commented on Chesterfield’s arrest.
If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of not less than 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.