After a week-long trial, St. Croix federal jury on Friday convicted Crucian Keithley Parris, age 33, of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced in a news release issued Tuesday.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Parris conspired with co-defendants Don-Luke George and Zion Hazel in April 2018 to smuggle two kilograms of cocaine through St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport with the intent to transport the cocaine to Miami via an American Airlines flight.
Evidence presented at the trial showed that Parris organized and planned the operation; recruited George and Hazel to participate; supplied the cocaine to George; paid George $1,000 to bring the cocaine into the airport; and subsequently directed and monitored the operation via text messages with George and Hazel while the operation was unfolding at the airport.
On April 12, 2018, George, who was employed at the airport, smuggled the four bricks of cocaine into the passenger waiting area of the airport and delivered them to Hazel in the handicap stall of the men’s restroom. Hazel was a passenger on the outgoing American Airlines flight but was intercepted with the cocaine prior to boarding his flight by Customs and Border Protection officers.
Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case. The DEA Southeast Laboratory in Miami analyzed the cocaine. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel H. Huston prosecuted the case.
According to Shappert’s news release, the prosecution was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces investigation, which identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States.