Sgt. Angelo Hill, the former commander of the V.I. Police Department’s Leander Jurgen Command on St. John has retired from the department and will be sentenced April 17 for his role in a major inter-island cocaine distribution enterprise.
Sgt. Hill, a veteran police officer, was serving as VIPD St. John Commander and in his unmarked VIPD vehicle on May 17, 2013, when he delivered 7.72 kilograms of cocaine to Roberto Tapia, the then-director of the Environmental Enforcement Division of the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources in an early-evening rendezvous.
Hill pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy in December 2013. Tapia had pleaded guilty to racketeering in September 2013 for using his official status to engage in the criminal enterprise of drug trafficking. Tapia’s sentencing is set for February 13.
Facing 10 Years To Life
“Both are facing potentially statutory life in prison with a mandatory minimum of 10 years,” according to one law enforcement official.
Both Hill and Tapia have retired from government service and qualified for their pensions, according to government officials.
Other defendants in the case who have pleaded guilty face fines of up to $10 million, but there was no information from the U.S. Attorney as to what fines Hill and Tapia face in addition to prison sentences if convicted.
Hill, his partner and his family have significant real estate assets around St. John including a car rental agency, a guest house and apartment buildings in Cruz Bay, Pastory and Pine Peace, and at least one vacation rental home on the south shore of the island.
Federal officials have not commented on whether they are seeking the seizure or forfeiture of any proceeds from the drug trafficking of Hill and Tapia.
Four co-defendants from Puerto Rico changed their plea before U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to related charges for their roles in the conspiracy to traffic in cocaine on Wednesday, January 29. All four were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending their sentencing June 5.
Three of the men face federal prison sentences of 10 years to life and fines of up to $10 million. One faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.
Drug Exchange in Downtown Cruz Bay
Tapia was arrested by federal agents in Red Hook, St. Thomas, after disembarking the St. John ferry on Friday night, May 17, 2013, carrying a backpack containing 7.72 kilograms of cocaine he had received from Hill. The exchange was made in Hill’s unmarked police vehicle which was parked in sight of the VIPD Jurgen Command in downtown Cruz Bay.
Tapia had arranged to pick up the cocaine from Hill and deliver it to two men from Puerto Rico while federal authorities were monitoring cellphone conversations between Hill and Tapia and others involved in a drug conspiracy under federal investigation.
Tapia, who joined DPNR April 2, 2007, officially retired from government employment May 17, 2013.
Hill was arrested one week after Tapia, on May 24, 2013. and charged with supplying Tapia with cocaine. Hill subsequently was released on bond.
Hill retired from his VIPD position before pleading guilty and was eligible for his pension, VIPD spokesperson Melody Rames confirmed.
The Division of Personnel informs the VIPD of an officers retirement, according to VIPD’s Rames. Any employee pensions or benefits are applied for through the Division of Personnel, she added.