Charges have been filed against two men for attempting to smuggle approximately $287,000 into St. Thomas by boat, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced Tuesday.
According to Shappert’s news release, Arioc Diaz Melendez and Juan Carlos Diaz Melendez were arrested at 2 a.m. Monday morning and made their initial appearances in federal court on Monday afternoon on St. Thomas.
Court documents indicate that early Monday, agents of the Customs and Border Protection Marine Unit spotted a boat traveling without navigational lights north of Savana Island. The agents pulled their vessel alongside the 24-foot yola-type vessel that was operating without lights. CBP agents activated their blue police lights and discharged a flare in an effort to convince the vessel to yield.
When CBP agents attempted to initiate a stop, the vessel did not yield but instead increased speed. The CBP agents shot one round into one of the engines of the other vessel at which point the vessel decreased speed and stopped.
The passenger then threw a duffel bag overboard, documents said. The bag was recovered by CBP agents and later found to contain roughly $287,000 in U.S. currency. CBP agents boarded the vessel, and apprehended the two defendants. The agents also recovered a Glock firearm.
This case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan Albino.