Former Miss St. John Pleads Not Guilty in Drug Conspiracy Case

ST. THOMAS —  A former beauty queen pleaded not guilty to being an alleged part of a drug conspiracy Wednesday in federal court. Kinia Blyden was arraigned with two other women before U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller.

Blyden, along with Dellana Magner and Ronquia Hart are accused of aiding a network in moving cocaine from the Virgin Islands and across the states of New York, Ohio, Michigan and Florida.

According to testimony given at an earlier trial by FBI special agent Michael Day, investigators tracked the conspiracy for several weeks between May and July.

Investigators accused Blyden and two others of using their Transportation Security Agency clearances to help others transport drugs through the Cyril King Airport. She was charged with conspiracy following her arrest on Sept. 13.

On Wednesday the 2011 St. John Festival Queen pleaded not guilty to the charges. Miller set a trial date of Nov. 21 for all three women.

An FBI agent in Pennsylvania contacted counterparts in the spring to let them know they were tracking the movements of a suspected drug conspiracy. Those movements, they said, led through St. Thomas. The Pennsylvania agent told Day the VI operation represented one leg of an interlocking network of drug distribution that spanned several states.

Magner was apprehended at Cyril King Airport with three kilograms of cocaine as she made her way into the passenger lounge to connect with a flight July 1. At a preliminary hearing held Sept. 21, Day put Blyden, Hart and another defendant – Tasheeda George — on the scene with Magner a few minutes before the drugs were found inside the luggage.

The alleged conspiracy outlined in court documents suggests that different players had different roles, making it hard for authorities to pin down. If a conspirator set up sales, they did not deliver drugs. If another conspirator directed a delivery, it would be up to other members of the team to supply drugs for transport.

Drugs and drug proceeds were not handled at the same time, and customer orders were also handled separately.

Investigators said they believe a meeting in an unused terminal bathroom was set up to supply cocaine to Magner, an alleged drug courier. The activity was caught on electronic surveillance, Day said.

Blyden, Hart and Magner were also allegedly seen on surveillance camera in Cleveland, Ohio on June 2, Day told the court. Investigators said they tracked the trio as they appeared near the Cleveland airport and were picked up by a car driven by an accused drug trafficker.

About 19 suspects in all are being sought in connection with the four state network being investigated by the FBI.