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Two Men Aboard Lights-Out Vessel Jettison 79 Kilos of Cocaine During Boat Chase Near Savanah Island, St. Thomas

Two men were arrested on St. Thomas on charges related to possession with intent to distribute 79 kilograms of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced Tuesday.

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According to court documents, Wesley Albert Amaro and Brian Santiago Gonzalez of Puerto Rico were stopped in the waters near Savanah Island, just west of St. Thomas, on Tuesday after the Coast Guard detected a vessel operating without navigation lights and traveling at a high rate of speed about 4 a.m. from Culebra, towards Hendrick Bay, St. Thomas. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations vessels responded while the USCG provided updates on the vessel’s location, according to the press release from Shappert’s office.

Air and Marine Operations agents located the lights-out boat using radar and attempted to stop the vessel, which instead fled while the two men onboard jettisoned bags overboard, the release stated. The agents disabled the vessel’s engine and marked when and where bags were discarded during the chase. Upon returning to the marked areas, they recovered three duffel bags containing 79 kilograms of suspected cocaine, according to the release.

Amaro and Gonzalez are charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. If convicted, they each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.

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CBP-AMO, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Homeland Security Investigations are investigating the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of the Virgin Islands is prosecuting the case.

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