St. Croix Man Sentenced to 5 Years For Cocaine Smuggling

Keithley Parris, age 34, of St. Croix, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to five years in prison for one count each of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Parris was previously convicted on those charges after a week-long jury trial on May 28, 2021, according to a release from U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands Gretchen Shappert.

After the prison term, Parris is also sentenced to four years of supervised release, a fine of $1,000 and a $200 special assessment.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Parris allegedly conspired with co-defendants Don-Luke George and Zion Hazel in April of 2018 to smuggle two kilograms of cocaine through the St. Croix Henry E. Rohlsen Airport with the intent to transport the cocaine to Miami on an American Airlines flight. The releases says 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.

As part of this plan, on April 12, 2018, George, who was employed at the airport, allegedly 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 before boarding his flight by Customs and Border Protection officers.