Two from U.S. Attorney’s Office in V.I. Receive National Awards

Two lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive national recognition for their work in drug enforcement, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos R. Cardona will be among attorney’s honored Friday at an awards ceremony in Miami.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is fortunate to have two nationally-recognized narcotics prosecutors, who are committed to dismantling transnational criminal networks and drug cartels,” Shappert said. “We are deeply grateful for their enormous contributions to our efforts to interdict drug-dealing criminals and to provide for enhanced public safety in the territory.”

Smith, is lead attorney from the VI-USAO for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force of the Department of Justice. She will receive a national award for her leadership and prosecution of a large cocaine conspiracy known as Smuggler Smash. This investigation lead to 22 convictions, including four airline employees and the forfeiture of more than $2 million dollars. Among the defendants convicted in this operation were former Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Officer Gerald Mercer and former government security officer Neal Chesterfield. Federal prison sentences imposed by the court ranged from 16 years to 30 months.

Cardona was lead OCDETF attorney in the Puerto Rico USAO before becoming first assistant U.S. Attorney in the V.I. Cardona’s award recognizes his exceptional contributions to the OCDETF program during his service in Puerto Rico. He is credited with successfully managing the OCDETF program, while maintaining a significant caseload, mentoring new OCDETF prosecutors and simultaneously serving as the Puerto Rico lead strike force attorney.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces program was established in 1982 to coordinate a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. Today it is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, money-laundering networks, and related criminal enterprises.

The program includes the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Criminal and Tax Divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice, and many state and local agencies.