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Man Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Charge

Carmelo Cruz-Velez, 52, of Puerto Rico pleaded guilty Friday in federal court on St. Croix to conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced.

According to Sharpe, prior to Oct. 21, 2014, Cruz-Velez and his coconspirators agreed to import cocaine into St. Croix and deliver it to others. On Oct. 21, 2014, his coconspirators retrieved a mid-sea shipment of 71 kilograms of cocaine, or more than 150 pounds, and brought it to St. Croix.

Subsequently, Cruz-Velez, knowing of the plan, took possession of the cocaine and delivered it to another individual.

Cruz-Velez faces up to life in prison for the offense and a fine of as much as $10 million. Sentencing has been set for Jan. 16.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso Andrews Jr.

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