St. Thomian Sworn In as Territory’s U.S. Marshal

Acting U.S. Marshal Kwesi Howard formally took charge of federal law enforcement on Feb. 8. (Photo courtesy Kwesi Howard)

For the first time in Virgin Islands history, the chief federal law enforcer for the territory is a Virgin Islander. U.S. Marshal Kwesi Howard took his oath of office Feb. 8 after 12 years of serving in the territory.

This milestone captured the attention of the territory’s representative in Congress. Delegate Stacey Plaskett offered her congratulations in a statement issued Feb. 9. Howard now leads the federal team that escorts judges, apprehends fugitives, and seizes and sells ill-gotten gains from federal offenses.

“I would like to commend and applaud Kwesi Howard for his long-deserved and hard-earned appointment to Acting U.S. Marshal,” she said. For 12 years, “Mr. Howard has dedicated himself to serving the people of the Virgin Islands as he has held the position of Judicial Security Inspector, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal, and most recently as Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal. I am pleased that after my forwarding his name for appointment to U.S. Marshal, he has been recognized for his unwavering dedication and continued excellence,” Plaskett said.

Howard said he grew up on St. Thomas and went to Charlotte Amalie High School, where he heard presentations by former U.S. Marshal Wilfred Barry. Barry and the then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings were conducting school tours at the time, telling students about the possibilities that awaited them in the federal service.

“I wasn’t really thinking about U.S. Marshals at the time,” Howard said, “but I remember him coming to my school and telling the story about arresting his own brother.”

A few years later, and after chatting with a friend working with U.S. Customs and Border Protections, the marshal said he pursued the matter further. Howard said he got into the federal training academy and got a foot in the door at Customs.

And while other Virgin Islanders like Lionel Roberts and Alfred Francis served in the federal enforcement and protection office, Howard acknowledged the significance of his new status. “I’m the first person from the Virgin Islands to become a deputy chief,” he said.

The opportunity to serve as U.S. Marshal for the territory arose as the former marshal, Jim Clark, retired in 2021.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of years that U.S. Marshal Kwesi Howard has served the territory. It is 12 years, not six.