A high ranking St. John V.I. Police Department officer was arrested by Federal agents on Friday, May 24, in connection with a drug trafficking sting operation.
Former VIPD St. John Chief and current Acting Commander of the island’s Leander Jurgen Command Sgt. Angelo Hill faces charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine in connection with a drug trafficking sting against Department of Planning and Natural Resources Director of Enforcement Roberto Tapia.
Tapia was arrested on May 17 in Red Hook after returning from St. John with 7.72 kilograms of cocaine. Federal agents allege that Hill supplied Tapia with the cocaine; handing it over from an unmarked VIPD vehicle in front of FirstBank VI, in the heart of Cruz Bay, according to the arrest affidavit.
Federal agents listening to phone conversations between Tapia, Hill and a buyer in Puerto Rico, received word that Tapia was “meeting with unknown individuals from Puerto Rico on the waters near St. Thomas, USVI, to pick up a large amount of money in association with the purchase of multiple kilograms of cocaine,” according to the affidavit.
Agents watched as Tapia, using a DPNR vessel, met up with a power boat near Sail Rock off St. Thomas on May 17, according to the affidavit.
Tapia was under surveillance when he was seen taking a backpack from the second vessel. He took the backpack with him from the DPNR boat and was seen putting it in his DPNR pick-up truck.
Agents listened in as Tapia called Hill and asked if he could pick up “seven of those girls,” according to the affidavit.
“‘Girls’ were code for kilograms of cocaine,” according to the document.
Federal agents watched as Tapia boarded the 7 p.m. ferry from Red Hook to St. John with the backpack in tow. He exited the ferry and sat down on a bench in Cruz Bay, according to the affidavit.
Agents listened as Hill told Tapia over the phone to walk in the direction of the bank where Hill was parked in his unmarked Envoy VIPD vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Tapia was seen walking back to the ferry dock with the backpack which was now “carrying significantly more,” according to the document.
When Tapia exited the 8 p.m. ferry in Red Hook, he was nabbed by federal agents and the contents of the backpack proved to be 7.72 kilograms of cocaine.
The next day, May 18, Eddie Lopez-Lopez and Stephen Torres, the men in the power boat from Puerto Rico, were arrested by Federal agents. All three men have since been released on bail and Tapia has been suspended without pay from DPNR.
On Friday, May 24, federal agents arrested Hill, who made his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller on Tuesday, May 28. Miller ordered Hill’s bail at $250,000 cash or property and released him into the custody of his mother, Elaine Hill, according to a report in the V.I. Daily News.
Hill was ordered to be confined to his Estate Enighed home, be electronically monitored and to remove all weapons from the home, according to the report.
On Thursday, May 30, Hill appeared before Miller once again to answer questions about a safe containing guns which had been discovered in home, according to the report in the V.I. Daily News.
While the U.S. Attorney’s office last week confirmed that guns had been removed from Hill’s home, no information on how many or what types of guns was released, according to the V.I. Daily News report.
VIPD Commissioner Rodney Querrard last week assured the public that the “VIPD will continue to enforce its long-standing policy of zero tolerance for any violations of law by those in our law enforcement divisions.”
Governor John deJongh supported Querrard and the VIPD leadership team in a prepared statement last week.
“The important work of protecting residents and visitors to that island [St. John] must continue without any significant interruption,” said deJongh.