Three Puerto Rican men have been charged after entering Brewer’s Bay in the US Virgin Island of St Thomas with over US$3 million in cash.
The men were held by agents from US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Air and Marine Operations who intercepted their vessel and found the more than US$3 million inside duffel bags.
They are Jose Ramon Pimentel-Rivera, 29; Jerry Kirkland-Marrero, 29; and Kalihel Ramos de Jesus, 27. The men made their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Miller on Wednesday on a charge of concealing more than US$100,000 onboard a vessel outfitted for smuggling.
The CBP said that Wednesday evening, Marine Interdiction Agents on patrol near the entrance to Brewer’s Bay, noticed a vessel approaching without its navigation lights illuminated. The agents initiated a stop of the vessel by engaging the blue lights. In response, CBP said, the occupants of the vessel began throwing duffel bags overboard before coming to a stop.
After the agents boarded the vessel and detained the three men, they recovered three duffel bags from the water. A fourth bag was discovered on the vessel. It said one of the duffel bags was equipped with a GPS tracker.
The vessel, which is registered in Puerto Rico, was outfitted with five fuel tanks.
“Transnational criminal organizations believe that law enforcement has relaxed its vigilance with social distancing and try to exploit this situation,” said Johnny Morales, director, Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. “Our AMO crews will continue to protect and serve the citizens of Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands even during this pandemic.”