Jan. 14, 2003 – A Planning and Natural Resources Department enforcement officer on routine patrol Monday spotted a motorboat speeding through Benner Bay and gave chase. Authorities caught up with the vessel and police say they found 64 kilograms (141 pounds) of cocaine and marijuana aboard and arrested a man who is now in jail on $750,000 bond.
"The vessel had no registration, stickers or number and was speeding," Sgt. Annette Raimer, police spokeswoman, said on Tuesday.
The man arrested, Lester de Castro, 33, was charged Tuesday in Territorial Court with cocaine trafficking and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Arraignment is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 23, but Ernest Basin, chief of the V.I. Justice Department Criminal Division, said the case may be turned over to federal authorities.
Police had no word on the whereabouts of a second man who reportedly jumped overboard as the DPNR officer boarded the boat. Raimer said the unidentified man threw 20 parcels into the water before jumping, and that authorities recovered them all. Two were found to contain cocaine while the other 18 contained marijuana, she said.
Another 44 packages of the substances were found on board, she said, with the take totaling 28 kilograms (62 pounds) of marijuana and 36 kilograms (79 pounds) of cocaine.
The seized vessel is from Tortola, Raimer said, but she did not know if de Castro had driven it from the British Virgin Islands.
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