BREAKING

Those Involved in Massive 329-Kilo Cocaine Bust Spoke of 'Living Off Airport Trips,' 'Meeting the Big Dogs in Santo Domingo'

Crime Published On January 14, 2021 06:33 AM
Ernice Gilbert | January 14, 2021 06:33:13 AM

From left to right, Police Officers Teshawn Adams and Shakim Mike

An affidavit of the massive drug bust in Florida Tuesday night that involved two V.I.P.D. officers along with V.I. National Guardsmen, shows that four individuals were arrested but up to six participated in the operation, as the Consortium first reported Wednesday.

The V.I. National Guard late Wednesday acknowledged that members in its ranks were involved. "The Virgin Islands National Guard is aware of the allegations of drug trafficking against current guard members. We attentively following this case and will take applicable measures when appropriate in accordance with military law and regulations,” Brig. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker. The statement added, "In an online news article released today by the Virgin Islands Consortium, it alleged that Virgin Islands National Guardsmen and others were arrested in Opa-Locka, Florida, on drug trafficking charges. A press briefing held today by the Virgin Islands Police Department, Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor confirmed the incident stating that it is under federal investigation."

Mr. Velinor — who confirmed that V.I.P.D. Officers Shakim Mike and Teshawn Adams were arrested — condemned the illegal activity. "I denounce any engagement in criminal activity, specifically by law enforcement officers," Mr. Velinor said. "I understand that there are other Virgin Islanders being investigated in this matter, and we'll continue to provide that support for our federal partners as they investigate this investigation."

The affidavit alleges that the defendants, revealed as St. Thomas Police Officer Shakim Mike, and suspects Trevon Adams, along with Maleek Leanard and Roystin David, "knowingly and willfully conspired to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine," which the affidavit revealed to be 328.79 kilograms.

According to the complaint, on Tuesday night a chartered aircraft, model 800 XP bearing U.S. registration N191GH arrived at the Opa Locka Executive Airport in Miami, Florida from St. Thomas. While performing baggage inspection, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers (CBPO) discovered 294 plastic-wrapped bricks which consisted of compacted white powdery substance that tested positive for the properties of cocaine. The bricks were inside several duffle bags and suitcases belonging to only passengers of the private plane. These passengers were David, Leanard and Mike, along with someone only identified as "Target 1".

A source with knowledge of the matter told the Consortium that former Port Authority Officer Jakelah Adolphine was taken into custody last night as part of the operation. However, the complaint does not name Adolphine, and his attorney told the Consortium he was not involved. Even so, a report from a local newspaper cites Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor as stating that Mr. Adolphine was taken into custody. Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe did not comment on the matter, but the Consortium learned Wednesday that Adolphine started his employment at the Port Authority on April 30, 2018 and was terminated on Feb. 26, 2020. Adolphine was also part of the V.I. National Guard, but as of Dec. 2019 was no longer a member.

According to the complaint, seen here, upon arrival to the Opa Loka Airport, CBPOs proceeded to inspect the bags and suitcases brought in by the four passengers. The bags and suitcases were scanned through the X-Ray machine and officers noticed brick-shaped objects consistent with narcotics smuggling inside the luggage. Several of the 294 bricks were probed and the white, powdery substance tested positive for cocaine. While CBPOs were performing the inspection, Mike fled the airport, according to the complaint.

During his post-Miranda interview, Target 1 explained he had arranged with Mike to smuggle cocaine to the United States via a private charter flight from St. Thomas. According to Target 1, Mike paid half of the charter flight fees of $11,000 and later gave Target 1 money orders totaling $11,000 to pay for the remaining charter fees. Target 1 also stated that Adams would be traveling from Tampa to Miami to pick up the conspirators and drive them to Orlando along with the cocaine.

In a post-Miranda statement, Leanard stated Target 1 and Mike had recruited him on the trip about three days earlier. He added that his role in the conspiracy was to help transport the cocaine. Leanard stated that Target 1 and Mike had purchased Leanard's return ticket to St. Thomas, according to the complaint. Although Leanard did expect to get paid for his participation in the smuggling venture, he told investigators he did not know the exact amount.

In his post-Miranda statement, David stated that he knew Target 1 and Mike from his work within the U.S. Army National Guard. David claimed that he did not know that the bags contained cocaine, but admitted that he helped carry and load the bags into the plane prior to takeoff in St. Thomas, according to the complaint. Law enforcement obtained consent to David's phone, which included various texts between him and Target 1 discussing drug trafficking. According to the complaint, these text messages between David and Target 1 included references to "moving product," "recruiting flight attendants," "investing all the money from our bricks," "meeting the big dogs in Santo Domingo," and "living off the airport trips." David also said that the last words he heard from Mike before Mike fled, were, "oh s***, I think we should run."

During the course of their investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and CBP were able to communicate with Adams, who agreed to voluntarily surrender, according to the complaint.  Adams sent his location via cellphone showing he was in Tampa Florida. In his post-Miranda interview, Adams said he was supposed to get paid $9,000 and $10,000 for transporting the passengers and the cocaine.

According to the complaint, law enforcement were able to conducted a controlled call between Mike and Target 1. During the call, a CBP officer, who was monitoring the call, interrupted the conversation and asked Mike to voluntarily surrender. Mike agreed to surrender and speak with law enforcement.  During Mike's post-Miranda interview, he explained that in Dec. 2020, an individual in St. Thomas had approached Target 1 about smuggling narcotics aboard a private flight. Target 1 offered Mike $60,000 to $70,000 for his role in the smuggling venture, according to the complaint. Mike admitted that at least three of the seized bags belonged to him and that he helped pack the cocaine bricks in the bags. Soon after Mike absconded, he sent his location to Adams, who picked him up at a hotel and drove him to Orlando, where he was contacted by law enforcement and ultimately agreed to surrender.

According to the complaint, throughout the course of the investigation, law enforcement gathered information that led to the arrest of Anthon Berkely, who is charged under a separate complaint. Berkely drove from Orlando to Miami with the intent to pick up one kilo of cocaine from the private charter smuggling event. During his interview, Berkely admitted that he was supposed to pick up one kilogram of cocaine and bring it to an unknown individual in Orlando. According to the complaint, although Berkely was not the ultimate buyer of the cocaine, he was expected to be paid $18,000 to pick up and transport the narcotics.

Velinor "Glad" Police Officers Got Caught 

Mr. Velinor said pictures of the officers in question would be provided to the media. "We'll keep you updated on the progress of this case but again, it is an ongoing federal investigation and the Virgin Islands Police Department continues to stand at the ready to support our federal partners as they continue to investigate."

Asked whether he was concerned that the community's trust in the department would erode because of the arrests, the commissioner stressed that a plurality of officers are in policing because they truly want to serve their community. "Most of the men and women in law enforcement are doing it for the right reasons," he said. "Occasionally you come across those individuals who have their own specific motivation and engage in illegal activity.

"I have said to our community that not everyone should be in policing, and where there are individuals who are demonstrating behaviors that's not consistent with our oath to protect and serve our community, I support us fully prosecuting them and also terminating their privilege to serve our community in this capacity," Mr. Velinor said.

The commissioner said the incident is not a reflection of the V.I.P.D., but instead "a reflection of two individuals who are part of the Virgin Islands Police Department who obviously engaged in criminal activity. I am glad that they were arrested. Any individual involved in criminal activity, whether you're in policing or not, you should be prosecuted. In this case I can say that it's good when an officer who is involved in unlawful activity is in fact brought to the appearance of everyone, and is in fact prosecuted based on an investigation."

He added, "I say that to say I wish no officer would engage in illegal activity, but where an officer chooses to engage in illegal activity, they should be prosecuted, and I, Trevor Velinor, is in support of the full gamut of the law in prosecuting individuals who are engaged in illegal activities."

 

 

Last updated on Jan. 15, 2021 at 6:04 a.m.

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