St. Thomas, USVI – Jose Ramon Pimentel-Rivera, 29, Jerry Kirkland-Marrero, 29, and Kalihel Ramos de Jesus, 27, all of Puerto Rico, made their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Miller today on a criminal complaint charging all three with concealing more than $100,000 onboard a vessel outfitted for smuggling, in violation of federal law, United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced.
According to the affidavit filed in the case, on the night of April 21, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine (AMO) agents were on patrol on a vessel near the entrance to Brewer’s Bay, St. Thomas, VI, when they noticed a vessel approaching without its navigation lights illuminated. The CBP AMO agents initiated a stop of the vessel by engaging the blue lights. In response, the three occupants of the vessel began throwing duffel bags overboard before coming to a stop.
After CBP AMO agents boarded the vessel and detained the three occupants, later identified as Pimentel Rivera, Kirkland-Marrero, and Ramos de Jesus, the agents recovered three duffel bags from the water that had been thrown overboard. A fourth duffel bag was discovered on the vessel. Agents estimate that the bags collectively contained at least $3 million dollars. 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.
This case is being investigated by CBP and the Department of Homeland Security. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Meredith Edwards.
A complaint is merely a charging document, and it is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.