St. Croix resident Neal R. Armstrong was arrested Thursday by the Virgin Islands High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force and charged with conspiracy to smuggle cocaine and money laundering on a warrant issued by the District Court of South Carolina, according to Tim Williams, resident agent in charge of the St. Croix DEA/HIDTA office.
According to Williams, Armstrong’s arrest was an offshoot of a two-year investigation involving DEA offices in the territory, in Dallas-Fort Worth and in Greenville, S.C.
Williams said Armstrong was "a source of supply of cocaine from St. Croix to the Greenville, S.C. area." He said the suspect was also "directly involved" in money laundering activities, arranging to have currency smuggled back from Atlanta back to St. Croix.
During the arrest, Williams said, agents executed a federal search warrant on the residence where Armstrong was staying and found about 113 grams of marijuana in a car the suspect had been operating and more than $9,000.
Williams said Armstrong was on probation, having been released from federal prison where he was incarcerated on a federal drug conviction.
Armstrong’s name "came up" as part of a two-year investigation into marijuana smuggling into the territory, Williams said. In April 2012 DEA agents and VIPD officers arrested 11 suspects in the island half of an alleged conspiracy to smuggle marijuana from Dallas into the territory.
"He was tied loosely through that," Williams said.
Williams said the U.S. attorney’s office in South Carolina will prosecute the case and has requested Armstrong’s immediate transfer to that jurisdiction.
In another case, Williams said prosecutor’s on St. Croix are still waiting for Dutch authorities on St. Marteen to approve extradition of three suspects in the open-seas seizure of a "go-fast boat" carrying more than a ton and a half of cocaine bound for the states. The arrest took place March 12, with DEA/HIDTA agents working in conjunction with the Dutch Netherlands Antilles Coast Guard. The vessel was northbound from Venezuela in international waters when it was seized, Williams said.
Two Dominican nationals and a Venezuelan were arrested and are being held on St. Marteen while the U.S. Justice Department seeks extradition. According to Williams, the suspects will be tried on St. Croix.
"We’re just waiting for a ruling of the Dutch court," Williams said. While he did not anticipate any problems with the request, he added, "Keep in mind, they will have lawyers. Time will tell how much fight they put up (against) extradition."
The seized boat and drugs are also on St. Marteen, he said, and officials are discussing what they’ll need for evidence.