Three Men Arrested at Sea Near St. Thomas For Cocaine Smuggling

More than 200 kilograms of cocaine, confiscated during a different arrest.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Virgin Islands announced Wednesday that three men were arrested Sunday, Nov. 21, on St. Thomas for allegedly smuggling 41 kilograms of cocaine.

On Monday, Erickson Bolivar, a Venezuelan national, Keisy Jesus, a Dominican Republican national, and Yehudi Robles, a United States citizen from Puerto Rican living in St. Thomas, had their initial appearances before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller on criminal charges related to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

According to court documents, around 4:37 a.m. Sunday, Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agents and Homeland Security Investigations special agents detected a vessel located off of the northwest coast of St. Thomas. The agents launched their interceptor vessel to investigate. Customs reportedly encountered the vessel traveling west toward Puerto Rico in the dark darkness without any navigation lights. Once the vessel was stopped, agents detained the three men. The boat and men were transported to Customs and Border Protection in Fajardo, Puerto Rico for further investigation. A Customs and Border Patrol dog apparently alerted to the presence of narcotics on board the vessel. Agents discovered 41 kilograms of cocaine in two separate vessel compartments.

On Tuesday, Miller ordered Bolivar and De Jesus detained pending resolution of the case. Robles was released to the custody of a third-party custodian and placed on house arrest pending the resolution of the matter.

All three men are charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. If convicted, all three men face up to life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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