The Attorney General’s Office has completed Operation “Keeping Watch,” which verified important information about the 65 registered sexual offenders in the St. Croix District, Attorney General Ariel Smith announced Monday.
During the operation, the V.I. Department of Justice, SID (Special Investigations Division), SORNA (Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act) unit, U.S. Marshals, and Virgin Islands Police Department officers visited each sex offender at their place of residence. If the offender was not at home, a verification check was conducted at their place of employment, according to the press release.
This year, the Superior Court Probation/Parole Officers collaborated with “Keeping Watch” as some of the offenders are on probation or parole. An offender’s probation or parole status automatically permits greater access to search and seize any illegal items possessed by the sex offender. This year’s collaboration resulted in the arrest of Felipe Felix, who is on parole. Felix was arrested on Aug. 15 for unauthorized possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition charges, the press release stated.
Of the 65 registered sex offenders in the St. Croix district, 56 were located, including Felix. One offender is incarcerated at the Bureau of Corrections for charges unrelated to the sex offender registry. Contact will be made within the next week for the nine offenders who were unable to be verified to update their information, the release stated.
A similar operation was conducted in the district of St. Thomas in July 2023. Currently, there are 54 registered sex offenders in the St. Thomas/St. John district. The number of compliant with their registration requirements was 52, while two are incarcerated, according to the release.
A registered sexual offender must notify the VIDOJ of their name, residence, temporary lodging information, vehicle information, Internet identifiers, telephone numbers, school information, and employment status. A team of Special Agents from the VIDOJ and SORNA unit, with the assistance of U.S. Marshals and other local and federal agencies, routinely conduct unannounced inspections of registered sexual offenders to verify their locations and other personal information, such as their work and home addresses. The Attorney General/VIDOJ is legally mandated to administer and enforce the sex offender registration laws. Registered sexual offenders in the territory are prosecuted by the Attorney General for either failing to register or not keeping their registration current, as required by this law, and if convicted, the penalty is a fine of not less than $3,000or more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than two years, or both. The law also provides that it is an offense to assist a sex offender to evade the registration requirements, which carries a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
For questions, please contact Territorial Sex Offender Registry Program Manager Inais Borque by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (340) 773-0295 ext. 20250 on St. Croix or Sexual Offender Registry Coordinator Nyetifah Todman by email at email@example.com or by phone at (340) 774-5666 ext. 10191, (340) 714- 9645 on St. Thomas.