U.S. District Court Chief Judge Robert A. Molloy sentenced Blas Panzardi Davila, 38, to six months in prison and two years of supervised release, following the defendant’s guilty plea to making a false statement to agents of Homeland Security Investigations, according to a release from U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands Gretchen Shappert.
According to court documents, Davila was the sole operator of a vessel traveling without lights from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas on January 14, 2021. A U.S. Customs and Border ship pulled alongside the vessel and asked about the lack of lights on the vessel. Davila reportedly responded that the lights were not working. Border Patrol officers boarded, found a large white cooler which Davila reportedly denied knowing the contents of. Officers opened the cooler which contained $316,930 in United States currency. Agents questioned the defendant about the currency, and Davila’s plea indicates he initially lied regarding his knowledge of the currency and whether he owned it. The defendant later acknowledged owning the money.
The $ 316, 930 in U.S. currency and the vessel operated by Davila were administratively forfeited, meaning they were taken by the government.
This case was investigated by Customs Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard E. Potter.