Four men were arrested during a joint operation between police in this territory and authorities in the United States Virgin Islands, resulting in the seizure of 200-300 kilograms of cocaine, VI police said yesterday.

The bust occurred Sunday on Virgin Gorda, according to the Police Information Office, which didn’t provide further information about the location.

Virgin Islanders Nickel Simon, 25, and Cryton Browne, 36, were jointly charged with possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply; engagement in smuggling a controlled drug; and human trafficking, police said.

Venezuelans Wilteredo Lopez Vargas, 40, and Hover Morillo Ybarbia, 47, were jointly charged with possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply; engagement in smuggling of a controlled drug; and illegal entry without leave from an immigration officer, according to police.

The four men remain in police custody pending their appearance in Magistrates’ Court, police said yesterday.

Trickle of info

On Monday, police issued a press release that announced the arrest but did not include the names of the men or the charges.

When a Beacon reporter called Police Information Officer Akia Thomas later that day to inquire about the arrest, Ms. Thomas said that she could not immediately provide more information than what was included in the release, but offered to verify information put out by other media sources, including the amount of drugs that were seized during the operation.

Subsequent attempts on Tuesday morning to obtain more information from Ms. Thomas were unsuccessful, as she could not provide details that had not been approved for release, she said.

“Unfortunately, I have to wait until I get approval before the names are released,” Ms. Thomas said in response to a question about the identities of those arrested.

An updated press release was issued yesterday morning.

Previous incident on VG

Last week, police sent a press release about a separate drug incident on VG, but provided few details.

Last week’s release, which was issued Oct. 21, stated that shortly after arriving in Virgin Gorda, a boat containing “a large quantity” of cocaine was searched and seized by police and Her Majesty’s Customs on Oct. 18.

Despite not providing the name of the boat, the type of the boat, its location or other details, police urged the public to come forward with any information regarding the drugs by contacting the Intelligence Unit at 368-9339 or the access number 311.

Police asked the public to do the same for the incident described in this week’s press releases.


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