News Release
December 30, 2008
For Information Contact:

Waldo P. Santiago
Public Information Officer

DEA Seizes $3 Million Worth of Cocaine in St. Croix, USVI

DEC 30 -- ST. CROIX, USVI – On December 23, 2008, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agents, working jointly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, with the assistance of VIPD and the VIPD Blue Lighting Strike Force officers seized 100 kilos of cocaine concealed in a shipment of spice seasoning from a container in the Port of St. Croix, USVI.

On Dec. 8, 2008, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) seized approximately 276 kilograms of cocaine using a similar concealment method. Canadian agencies coordinated with U.S. federal agencies to ensure that similar shipments would be detected.

Based on information relayed by the DEA Ottawa Country Office, the DEA HIDTA St. Croix Task Force, ICE, CBP, USVI Police Department and USVI Blue Lighting Strike Force worked together and inspected a container of 800 boxes of food items discovering 139 boxes of spice seasoning that had narcotics hidden in cardboard dividers.  The shipment arrived on a motor vessel from Guyana transiting that was transiting through St. Croix, USVI on its way to Canada. 

“This seizure is another example of DEA efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands to curtail the flow of drugs through the Caribbean transit zone" said Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Caribbean Division. "DEA close coordination with our international counterparts such as the Canadian Border Service Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and our domestic partners, such as CBP, ICE, VIPD and the Blue Lighting Strike Force, are key to the success of these efforts"

"The importation of illegal narcotics into the United States is a very serious crime and the unscrupulous persons involved will not receive reprieve from law enforcement," said Manuel Oyola Torres, special agent-in-charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "In our efforts to keep illegal drugs from entering the United States and off the streets of our communities, we will continue working with our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal law enforcement partners to identify and dismantle drug trafficking and money laundering organizations that operate within our jurisdiction."

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection will put out all the stops to work with other law enforcement agencies and ensure that our mission is accomplished” said Marcelino Borges, Director San Juan Field Operations. “CBP Protects our nation’s borders from terrorism, human and drug smuggling, illegal migration, and agricultural pests. Other law enforcement agencies relate to this mission as well, and as in this case, working together was a key factor in the successful detection and seizure of these illegal substances.”