April 30, 2014
Contact: Ana Pino
Phone Number: (787) 277-4709
Twenty-Nine Golden Grove Inmates Indicted For Possessing Illegal Contraband
(ST. CROIX - , U.S. Virgin Island) -A federal grand jury in St. Croix has indicted 29 inmates at the Golden Grove Adult Correctional and Detention Facility for possessing illegal contraband, announced Ronald W. Sharpe, United States Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands; Vito S. Guarino, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement (DEA) Caribbean Division; and Carlos Cases, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of (FBI) San Juan Field Division. The indictments were returned by the grand jury on April 3, 2014, and 27 of the indictments were unsealed on April 28, 2014. Two indictments remain under seal. Under federal and territorial law, it is illegal for inmates to possess illegal contraband such as weapons, controlled substances, and cellular telephones in prison. If convicted, these defendants face between one and five years in prison, and fines of between $200,000 and $250,000 depending on the nature of the contraband possessed.
These indictments are part of an ongoing federal investigation involving the smuggling of illegal contraband into Golden Grove by correctional officers, inmates, and others. On April 7 and 8, 2014, federal agents executed federal search warrants on Golden Grove, which authorized the search of inmates’ cells and certain common areas such as the prison yard and workshop areas for illegal contraband, weapons, controlled substances, and cellular telephones. As a result of those searches, federal agents seized, among other contraband, approximately 55 (“shanks” and other contraband capable of being used as weapons, such as razor blades and scissors), 28 cellular telephones, a cell phone “booster,” and a Sony PlayStation. In addition, illegal drugs were seized from 33 separate cells, along with drug packaging material and other drug paraphernalia.
The indictments unsealed Monday involve contraband seized before the execution of the federal search warrant. Additional inmates could face federal charges based on the seizures made on April 7 and 8.
The following inmates are charged in the indictments unsealed on April 28:
“These indictments demonstrate the United States’ ongoing commitment to identify, investigate, and prosecute those responsible for possessing and introducing contraband into Golden Grove,” U.S. Attorney Sharpe said. “It is important for the community to have confidence that prison inmates do not have access to weapons or the ability to engage in criminal activity from behind bars.”
“The safety of all inmates and employees is a priority in all correctional facilities. It is imperative that order is maintained inside the prison to prevent crimes from happening both in and outside as well,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Guarino. “DEA will continue to work closely with other federal and territorial law enforcement and government agencies to reach that goal in the Golden Grove Correctional facility.”
“Illegal contraband in the prison system affects operations and the safety of all correctional facilities’ employees,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases. “The FBI will continue to support all federal and local authorities in combating illegal contraband in the prison system.”
An indictment is merely a charging document and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The investigation is being led by the St. Croix DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA) Task Force, which includes officers from the Virgin Islands Police (VIPD), with assistance from the FBI. Assisting HIDTA in the April 7 and 8 searches were agents from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, VIPD, and the Virgin Islands National Guard.
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