A man from Puerto Rico pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to making a false statement to agents of Homeland Security Investigations, an executive agency of the United States, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert of the District of the Virgin Islands announced.
According to court documents, Blas Sebastian Panzardi Davila, age 38, was the sole individual operating a vessel traveling from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas. Onboard defendant’s vessel was a cooler containing $316,930 in United States currency. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction
Officers questioned the defendant regarding the contents of the cooler, and defendant responded that he did not know what the cooler contained. CBP-MI officers opened the cooler and discovered the currency, which the defendant denied owning.
Agents from Homeland secrity Investigations arrived and questioned Davila about ownership of the money, and the defendant then claimed the currency belonged to him, according to the report. Asked how he earned the money, defendant stated that he earned it while giving tourists diving tours in Puerto Rico. Asked how much currency was in the cooler, defendant said that it was approximately $100,000. According to court documents, defendant made his false statements to agents of the Executive Branch of the government of the United States.
The $ 316, 930 in U.S. currency and the vessel operated by Davila were administratively forfeited.
Davila is scheduled to be sentenced on January 27, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.
This case was investigated by Customs Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard E. Potter.