Two Cyril E. King Airport employees and a third man were arraigned Wednesday on cocaine smuggling and conspiracy charges after allegedly being observed bringing 14 kilograms of the illegal drug through the airport in 2011.
The indictment was filed under seal June 19 but recently unsealed. According to a redacted version of the indictment filed with the federal court system, Aben Marrero and Leayle Benjamin used their positions in the airport maintenance department to arrange drug shipments and would deliver narcotics to fellow conspirators in the airport bathroom.
A third individual, Michael Samuels, is accused of aiding the conspiracy.
The indictment outlines two transactions, totaling 14 kilograms of cocaine, but allege a long-term conspiracy in which an unknown amount of cocaine traveled by commercial plane from the territory to individuals in Atlanta and Miami.
In July 2011, Benjamin allegedly approached a fourth man – Thomas Bruce – about bringing cocaine to Atlanta in his carryon bag. Marrero then purportedly gave Bruce nine kilograms, which Bruce carried to Atlanta, where a person whose name is redacted from the indictment collected the cocaine.
Then in October 2011, Marrero gave Bruce another nine kilograms – but this time seven were real and two were sham kilos, according to the indictment. Samuels allegedly then sent a person whose name is redacted to pick up six kilograms of cocaine from Bruce. There is no mention of the fate of the one kilogram that appears to be unaccounted for.
In an unrelated cocaine smuggling conspiracy also involving V.I. government agency employees, Department of Planning and Natural Resources Chief Enforcement Officer Roberto Tapia was arrested in May and charged with smuggling cocaine. V.I. Police Sgt. Angelo Hill was subsequently arrested and charged in the same alleged smuggling operation as Tapia.
No trials have yet been scheduled in these cases.