In October, four men were apprehended and arrested for allegedly trying to sneak cocaine into the territory and later charged with importation of a controlled drug.

Two of those men, being Venezuelan nationals, were additionally charged with illegal entry.

Three of the accused, Venezuelans Wilfredo Lopez Vargas and Hober Morillo Ybarbia, as well as Virgin Islander Cryton Brown, entered their pleas on Tuesday.

All three, who were represented by attorney Leroy Jones, pleaded not guilty to the charge of importation of a controlled drug, while Messrs. Vargas and Ybarbia both pleaded guilty to illegal entry.

Virgin Islander Nickel Simon, represented by attorney Patrick Thompson, pleaded not guilty to his charge during a Nov. 7 court hearing.

Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste DaBreo set a reporting date for Feb. 13, while the trial is set to continue on March 4, 10 and 11,she said.

The allegations

The Oct. 27 operation was set in motion when police officers got word of a boat being pursued by United States authorities, Crown Counsel O’Neil Simpson alleged during the Nov.7 hearing. Upon receiving this news and additional reports that passengers aboard the boat were tossing packages of suspected narcotics into the water, officers with the police force and Her Majesty’s Customs set off for the North Sound of Virgin Gorda.

United States Coast Guard agents were bearing down on the boat as it closed in on the island, and the VI authorities sealed off any possible exit routes and countered several evasive manoeuvres, forcing it ashore, Mr. Simpson alleged.

“The [evasion] tactics proved futile,” he said.

Officers positioned on shore caught three of the passengers who attempted to run away, while a fourth man also seen fleeing the scene was caught soon after, according to the prosecutor.

All four men were then taken into custody, and police recovered 276 blocks of cocaine weighing a total of 309 kilograms, he said.

The haul was worth about $30 million, according to the Crown.

During questioning, police informed Mr. Brown that they had searched his residences in Virgin Gorda and Cane Garden Bay, and had found in his temporary Cane Garden residence “paraphernalia” including a vacuum sealer and money counter, Mr. Simpson said.

“These findings were brought to the attention of the accused,” the prosecutor said, adding, “He made no subsequent reply.”

Later, during a Nov. 7 court hearing, bail was set for the two Virgin Islanders at $500,000 each, with $100,000 to be paid with a signed surety.

Ms. Baptiste DaBreo did not offer bail to the two Venezuelans, given that they do not have legal status in the territory.


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