Hector Alcenio, one of the most recent defendants to be named in the drug trafficking case involving former Planning and Natural Resources Enforcement Director Roberto Tapia, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of drug conspiracy.
The plea could send him to jail from 10 years to life, and he could be facing a fine up to $10 million, government attorneys said during a hearing Thursday in V.I. District Court. Alcenio's sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on April 24, and attorneys said he could also be monitored for five years after his release. Alcenio will have to pay a $100 special assessment fee.
During the hearing, attorneys said Alcenio was not forced into changing his plea – which up to now has been not guilty – and that he "knowingly and willingly" conspired with Tapia, along with others, with intent to distribute five or more kilos of cocaine.
Alcenio had a relationship with Tapia, served as one of his points of contact and helped him get 13 kilos of cocaine to various buyers and sellers, according to the government.
Alcenio, 43, has waived his right to appeal, they added.
Earlier this week, V.I. Police Sgt. Angelo Hill – alleged as one of the ringleaders in the drug trafficking scheme – also pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy on a charge that includes Tapia. The plea agreement is similar to Alcenio's in that Hill could be facing a minimum 10 years to a maximum life sentence, a maximum $10 million fine, a maximum five years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.
Hill’s sentencing is scheduled for April 17.
Tapia, who is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 13, pleaded guilty in late September to one count of racketeering and can also face up to life in prison. He also faces a maximum of $250,000 in fines, a minimum of two years supervised release and a $100 special assessment fine.
The initial indictment against Tapia and Hill included 43 pages of allegations that run from drug conspiracy to embezzlement and fraud.
Also named in the indictment – which is in its third iteration – are Raymond Brown and Edwin Monsanto from St. Thomas, Hill's cousin Walter Hill, Eddie Lopez-Lopez and Stephen Torres from Puerto Rico, and Angel Negron-Beltran.
Tapia was arrested on May 17 by federal agents as he was returning from St. John. Tapia was carrying 7.72 kilograms of cocaine in a backpack that agents said he received from Torres and Lopez-Lopez during a rendezvous the same day. It is believed that Tapia sold the cocaine to Angelo Hill, who was arrested on May 24.