March 5, 2009 – A total of $3.5 million worth of illegal drugs went up in smoke this week when evidence used in prosecution of criminal cases was incinerated in a joint Police and Justice Department mission.
This is another success story of different agencies collaborating to get a job well done," said William Curtis, director of the Justice Department's Special Investigations Division.
The illegal drugs included large quantities of marijuana, crack and powder cocaine. The cases involving those drugs have since been closed or adjudicated, thereby allowing for the disposal of the drugs on Tuesday.
"We have to hold on to this stuff for quite awhile," Justice Department spokesman Sara Lezama said Thursday.
Some of the drugs had been around for years, Lezama said.
Dubbed Operation Toast 2009, the drugs came from the V.I. Bureau of Drug Enforcement. This agency was previously called the Narcotics Strike Force.
Operation Toast 2009 began at 10 p.m. Monday when truck loads of drug evidence and confidential files that are no longer of value to Bureau of Drug Enforcement were transported from their respective storage units to the V. I. Port Authority incinerator on St. Thomas. The evidence burn began at about midnight and concluded shortly after 4 a.m. Tuesday.
According to Lezama, Operation Toast was done in the middle of the night for security reasons.
"We wanted to make sure it's a safe environment," she said.
All participating personnel were dressed in personal protection equipment while handling or being exposed to any illegal drugs.
Lezama said there were no complaints about any odors from nearby residents.
The incinerator is closed with the drugs cooked at 1,800 degrees, Lezama said. The smoke goes out a smokestack.
"There's nothing left over," she said.
She declined to disclose the location of the incinerator.
A press release from the Attorney General's office indicated the V.I. Port Authority and the Property and Procurement Department assisted in the operation.
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