Above: the USVI
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Roberto Tapia, the director of the US Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Enforcement, was arrested Friday by federal agents on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficing.
The arrest was announced in a release from US Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands on Saturday evening.
Tapia appeared in court before Chief Judge Curtis Gomez on Saturday, and was ordered to be held without bail pending a hearing on Tuesday.
According to the criminal complaint, federal agents observed Tapia using a DPNR boat “in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy.”
When he was arrested, Tapia was “armed, wearing clothing bearing official DPNR insignia and in possession of a bag containing approximately seven kilograms of cocaine.”
Tapia could face a statutory minimum of 10 years in prison.
Drug trafficking has been an increasing problem in the United States’ Caribbean territories, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Last year, then-Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño urged President Barack Obama to step up security efforts on what he called the US’ “Caribbean border.”