Venezuelan Pleads Guilty to Possession of a Controlled Substance

The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley performs sea trials in 2016. The ship, with a top speed of 28 knots and a range of about 3,000 miles, is a part of the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Eric D. Woodall)
The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley performs sea trials in 2016. The ship, with a top speed of 28 knots and a range of about 3,000 miles, is a part of the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Eric D. Woodall)

Roman Jose Aguilera Gig, 39, of Venezuela, pled guilty Friday in District Court on St. Croix to one count of possession of a controlled substance on board a vessel, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced.

The charge s a federal offense that carries a possible sentence of up to 40 years in prison, a maximum fine of up to $5 million, , and a term of supervised release of at least two years. Sentencing is set for Feb. 27.

According to court documents, at approximately 3:45 p.m. May 8, 2017, a patrol aircraft associated with the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South located a northbound go-fast vessel – or GFV – approximately 105 nautical miles west of Martinique traveling at a speed of 25 knots. The vessel was in a known drug trafficking route. It had five outboard engines and contained multiple fuel barrels and suspicious packages visible on deck. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley was directed to intercept the vessel. Upon arrival, the crew of the GFV were observed tossing the suspicious packages and fuel barrels overboard. Ultimately, the crew of the cutter recovered eight bound packages that contained approximately 162 kilograms (357 pounds) of marijuana. The defendant was one of seven Venezuelan national crew members onboard the GFV.

Gig is now the final and seventh defendant to enter a guilty plea. Co-defendant Juan Rodriguez previously entered a guilty plea on Aug. 13. Co-defendants Jesus Garcia and Jhoan Gomez entered guilty pleas on Aug. 15. Co-defendants Felix Gomez and Rosauro Morao entered guilty pleas on Aug. 22. Co-defendant Manual Rodriguez entered a guilty plea on Sept. 20.

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The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel H. Huston.

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