Gov. John deJongh Jr. appointed an acting director and acting deputy director of the Division of Environmental Enforcement at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources following the arrest Friday of Roberto Tapia on drug trafficking charges.
Howard Forbes Sr. of St. Croix has been named acting direction of the Environmental Enforcement Division, and Jessica A. Magras Parris was appointed assistant director of the division. The appointments were made on the recommendation of DPNR Commissioner Alicia V. Barnes, who placed Tapia on paid administrative leave while his case works through the legal system.
The governor noted Forbes’ long career with DPNR as the reason for his appointment.
“Forbes, an environmental enforcement officer with 24 years of experience, is the most senior officer in the department. He will oversee the day to day operations of the division,” deJongh said.
Before joining DPNR, Forbes was a ranger with the National Park Service. He has received significant training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center and at the Department of Homeland Security Center for Domestic Preparedness. He is certified with the National Crime Information Network and is a certified Hazardous Materials Technician.
As assistant director of the Environmental Enforcement division, Parris will provide support and assistance to the acting director as regards day-to-day operations in the St. Thomas-St. John district.
“Deputy Director Parris is familiar with the duties and responsibilities required for this position in light of her seniority as an environmental enforcement officer over the past seven years and her being the most senior officer in the district," deJongh said. "Prior to her position as an environmental enforcement officer, she served as boating safety education coordinator for three years.”
Parris has received training in such disciplines as hazardous materials, NCIC, boating and water safety and is a certified first responder. She has also provided dignitary protection services.
“I was pleased today to accept the recommendations of Commissioner Barnes and finalize the appointment of temporary leadership so that the work of this important division can move forward without interruption," the governor said. "I thank both acting Director Forbes and acting Assistant Director Parris for their willingness to serve in these positions.”
Tapia was arrested Friday in possession of seven kilograms of cocaine. Along with being placed on leave, he was ordered to turn in his all government-owned equipment in his possession, including his credentials, revolver, keys, badges, computers and uniforms.
Tapia was released Tuesday into the recognizance of his mother on $250,000 bond.