April 17, 2003 – More than two years after Achille Malik Tyson, a former Narcotics Strike Force officer, pleaded guilty to drug charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday the unsealing of the plea.
That information was released in conjunction with the announcement that Antonio Petersen, a Corrections Bureau officer and former part-time U.S. marshal, entered a guilty plea on Wednesday to drug charges.
Meanwhile, eight men indicted on drug charges last week after a two-year investigation into what U.S. Attorney David Nissman called a Caribbean-wide drug-smuggling operation based in the Virgin Islands all entered not guilty pleas Wednesday in District Court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugh P. Mabe III said the two cases are not related.
In March 2001, Tyson, 40, pleaded guilty to a federal charge of distributing controlled substances and a local charge of racketeering. On Wednesday, Petersen, 58, pleaded guilty to the federal charge of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.
Petersen was arrested in September 2002 with Narcotics Strike Force agents George Osborne and Jay Watson, a release from Nissman's office stated, and their case will be heard by a jury starting May 6. The fourth person arrested at that time, Esbond DeGrasse, pleaded guilty shortly after his arrest.
Nissman said in the release that Tyson and fellow strike force agents used their positions as narcotics officers to obtain mainly crack and cocaine powder. According to the release, their indictment accuses the agents between 1996 and 2000 of "stealing illegal drugs from known drug traffickers through the use of physical force and by routinely arresting and 'unarresting' drug traffickers and seizing their drug inventory as well as guns, money, and other personal property."
Nissman said that Petersen pleaded guilty to having knowingly participated in the distribution of about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of cocaine on St. Croix in 2000.
Tyson faces a minimum of 10 years in jail, a fine of up to $4 million, or both, on the federal drug charges and a 15-year jail term and a fine of up to $500,000, or both, on the local racketeering charge.
Petersen faces five to 40 years in jail and a fine of not more than $4 million, or both.
The eight individuals who entered not guilty pleas at their arraignment Wednesday were identified as Andy Antoine, Police Officer Raphael Cintron, Rudy Clark, Elroy Dowe, Daniel Fleming, Craig Hendricks, Ranney La Ronde and Russell "Don" Robinson.
Clark, Dowe, Hendricks and Robinson were ordered to remain in jail pending further proceedings. Bail was set for the four others.
Two more people were named in the indictment handed up by a federal grand jury last Friday. Their identifies are being withheld until they are arrested. (See "Investigation nets eight arrests, $1 million".)
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