Woman Convicted of Smuggling Marijuana

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Raquel Rivera was convicted at trial Thursday of attempting to smuggle marijuana into the territory, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert reported.

According to evidence presented at the trial in St. Thomas District Court, Rivera was stopped on April 22, 2020, at the Cyril E. King airport after arriving on St. Thomas from Miami, Florida. Customs and Border Protection officers searched the luggage she was carrying, including one suitcase checked in Rivera’s name and one checked in the name of someone else. Inside, officers found 12 identical, vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana concealed in various items of clothing, including jeans, towels, and a Hello Kitty blanket.

In total, Rivera had nearly six kilograms of marijuana in both suitcases, and, when interviewed by officers, she gave conflicting accounts of what was in the suitcases and who packed them.

Rivera will be sentenced later.

The case was by the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Natasha Baker and Nathan Brooks, and is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces investigation.

According to Shappert’s news release, OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States, using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.