In early June 2011, Kinia Blyden was getting ready to compete for the title of St. John Festival Queen, a contest that she ended up winning. A newly minted graduate of Charlotte Amalie High School, her summer seemed filled with excitement.
Five years later, in June 2016, FBI agents said Blyden was seen sitting on a bench outside an airport in Cleveland, Ohio, getting ready to receive a shipment of cocaine.
On May 10 the former beauty queen heard her fate in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced her to more than two years in prison.
Investigators with the FBI said Blyden was part of a team of female couriers deployed by admitted drug trafficker Nilda Morton. Morton is serving an 87-month sentence for deploying a 13-member team to move cocaine through St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport to four states on the U.S. mainland.
According to court documents, investigators captured activity by Blyden, along with co-defendants Dellanna Magner and Ronaqua Hart, during a surveillance operation outside of Cleveland Airport on June 2, 2016.
An affidavit filed in the case said agents were tipped off about a pending drug handoff after capturing phone calls between Morton and co-defendant Vanier Murraine. Murraine was seen picking up the women in a vehicle and making several stops, including one at his hotel room.
Investigators said Murraine was seen carrying a shopping bag from the hotel room to the vehicle. The bag was removed by the passengers after they were driven to their hotel.
Blyden and Magner pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance on Jan. 26, 2017.
Defense attorney Carl Williams said Blyden self-surrendered to U.S. Marshals that day and began serving her time in advance of a formal sentencing hearing.
“At the end of the sentencing, the court sentenced her to 26 months, zero days,” Williams said.
Shared content for Virgin Islands Source and St. John Tradewinds.