2 Men Aboard Lights-Out Vessel Jettison 79 Kilos of Cocaine

Two Men Aboard Lights-Out Vessel Jettison 79 Kilos of Cocaine During Boat Chase Near Savanah Island, USVI

(STL.News) U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced that two Puerto Rican men were arrested today, March 29, 2022, in St. Thomas, USVI on criminal charges related to possession with intent to distribute 79 kilograms of cocaine.

According to court documents, on March 29, 2022, Wesly Albert Amaro, and Brian Santiago Gonzalez, were stopped in the waters near Savanah Island, just west of St. Thomas, USVI.  At approximately 4:00 a.m., the United States Coast Guard (USCG) detected a vessel operating without navigation lights traveling at a high rate of speed from Culebra, PR towards Hendrick Bay, St. Thomas. Customs and Boarder Protection Air and Marine (AMO) vessels responded as the USCG provided updates of the vessel’s location.  AMO agents located the lights-out vessel using radar and attempted a stop.  The vessel fled while the two men onboard jettisoned bags overboard.  The vessel would not heave to, so AMO agents disabled the vessel’s engine.  During the chase, AMO agents marked when and where bags were discarded from the vessel.  Upon, returning to the marked areas, AMO agents recovered three duffel bags containing 79 kilograms of suspected cocaine.

Both men are charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance pursuant to 21 U.S.C §§ 841(b)(1)(B).  If convicted, each man faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

CBP-AMO, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are investigating the case.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of the Virgin Islands is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.