A man admitted to sailing into Virgin Islands waters last week aboard a boat stuffed with more than half a ton of marijuana, but he objected to a prosecutor’s assertion that he entered the territory illegally.

Ralph James, an Antiguan, pleaded guilty to four drug-related charges, each of which could bring several years in prison. But when Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe told Magistrate Tamia Richards that she intended to try Mr. James on the illegal entry charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, the defendant objected.

“We had a broken boom, a broken engine and the wind made us drift,” he said in order to explain how he, Adrian Arthur and Glenroy Pierre found themselves in VI waters on Oct. 25.

According to Ms. Scatliffe, the men’s 50-foot sailboat, Graecrest, was stopped during a joint customs and marine police patrol about 14 miles south of Anegada. All three defendants were charged with illegal entry; supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug; possession of a controlled drug; importation of a controlled drug; and unlawful possession of a controlled drug with the intent to supply to another. Messrs. Pierre and Arthur pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.


See the Nov. 8, 2012 edition for full coverage.