Two men were charged Friday with conspiracy to distribute cocaine following the seizure Thursday of 86 kilograms of the drug and a firearm at a Frenchtown residence on St. Thomas, according to United States Attorney Gretchen Shappert.
The men, Yefri Martinez Herrera and Kelly Bruney were arrested Thursday and made their initial appearances in federal court on Friday, Shappert said in a news release.
According to court documents, Bruney is the alleged leader of a drug trafficking organization that distributes kilograms of cocaine to drug organizations in the Caribbean and owns kilograms of drugs on St. Thomas, the release stated.
Martinez Herrera is described in court documents as a “broker” who connects individuals looking to purchase kilograms of cocaine with individuals looking to sell the drug, Shappert stated.
On Jan. 18, Martinez Herrera and Bruney were allegedly involved in planning a drug transaction involving 200 kilograms of cocaine, and on Feb. 3, they prepared to sell 86 kilograms of cocaine, the release stated.
However, they could not agree on a public meeting location for the drug deal because Martinez Herrera was fearful of law enforcement as he had a pending arrest warrant for conspiracy to transport aliens and bringing in and harboring aliens issued by the District Court of Puerto Rico, according to the release.
Federal agents were able to identify the location and home where Martinez Herrera was staying with the drugs, said Shappert. When agents entered the home, they found 87 brick-like objects, later identified as cocaine, on the floor of a second-story bedroom and a Glock 23 pistol, according to the release.
While conducting a safety sweep of the home, agents located Martinez Herrera hiding inside a closet in a first-floor bedroom and arrested him, the release stated. Moments later, agents spotted Bruney nearby driving a silver Tacoma, and he was arrested, it said.
The case is being investigated jointly by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigation, Air Marine Operations, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, United States Postal Inspection Service, Puerto Rico Police Department, and Virgin Islands Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Juan Albino.
Shappert reminds the public that a complaint is merely a formal charging document, and it is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.