District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez today sentenced Roberto Tapia, 55, to 70 months in prison for using the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) as a criminal enterprise to engage in illegal drug trafficking activities, United States Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced.
Tapia, DPNR’s former Director of Environmental Enforcement, pleaded guilty on September 19, 2013 to using DPNR as a criminal enterprise to engage in illegal drug trafficking activities. He was arrested on May 17, 2013, and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. On September 12, 2013, he was charged in a 34-count second superseding indictment, along with six other defendants, including Virgin Islands police sergeant Angelo Hill, Raymond Brown, Hector Alcenio, Edwin Monsanto, Stephen Torres, and Eddie Lopez-Lopez.
The indictment and plea followed an extensive investigation conducted by the Federal Public Corruption Task Force, which culminated with the arrest of Tapia while in possession of seven kilograms of cocaine.
“It’s a sad day when a high-ranking law enforcement officer has to be sentenced for violating the public’s trust,” U.S. Attorney Sharpe said. “The egregious criminal conduct perpetrated by this individual, who chose to abuse his position for selfish gain at the expense of the safety and welfare of the community, taints every hard-working law enforcement officer. My office will continue to vigorously fight public corruption, and target individuals who undermine the public trust.”
The case was investigated by the Public Corruption Task, which comprises the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA; Virgin Islands Police Department; U.S. Marshals Service; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI); U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); United States Coast Guard; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly B. Lake.