Two of 11 Venezuelan men caught with cocaine off the coast of St. Croix were sentenced in court, the V.I. Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday.
Francisco Rodriguez-Infante, 28, and Johnny Rodriguez-Rodriguez, 30, two of eleven Venezuelan nationals apprehended at sea off the coast of St. Croix, were sentenced to 41 months in prison, followed by two years supervised release on the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. In addition, they must pay a $100 special assessment fee and are subject to deportation, said Attorney General Delia L. Smith in a news release.
According to court documents, on Sept. 25, 2019, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley intercepted the “La Gran Tormenta,” a suspicious 55-foot vessel displaying Venezuelan nationality, approximately 38 nautical miles south of St. Croix.
The occupants of the vessel failed to respond to the Coast Guard’s efforts to engage in questioning and, after that, changed course and began jettisoning packages. Coast Guard crew members later detained 11 individuals onboard the vessel and retrieved two bales from the ocean, which contained packages of brick-shaped objects that tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride and weighed approximately 49 kilograms.
The United States Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Customs and Border Protection investigated the case, and it is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Melissa P. Ortiz