DEA and FBI Arrests VIPD Officer and Associate on RICO Charges
MAY 22 - St. Thomas, USVI – Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration the Caribbean, United States Attorney Paul A. Murphy of the District of the Virgin Islands and Luis Fraticelli, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ,announced today that a federal grand jury returned a 5-count indictment charging Gelean Mark, also known as Kerwin, of St. Thomas and VIPD Officer Jerome Blyden, with participating in a criminal enterprise whose members and associates engaged in illegal narcotics distribution, unlawful gambling relating to dog fighting, and acts of violence, including attempted murder, and which operated principally on the island of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. Mark is presently detained in relation to two other federal cases. Yesterday, DEA and FBI agents arrested Blyden pursuant to an arrest warrant. Mark and Blyden were arraigned in District Court on the charges in the indictment during their initial court appearance before the Magistrate Judge in St. Thomas.
“The investigation and arrests of Mark and Blyden by the DEA and the FBI mark the first RICO indictment in the District of the Virgin Islands” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña. “DEA will continue supporting the FBI in the fight against public corruption with our unique expertise and resources when these corrupt public officials are engaged in drug trafficking”
“Many of our investigations start with a tip from someone who encounters corruption, because there is a growing intolerance by the American people of public corruption; an intolerance reflected in the willingness to come forward and report abuse of public office,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Fraticelli. “Therefore, if you violate the law, you will be charged and arrested.”
The indictment follows a long-term investigation of more than 20 months conducted by the DEA and the FBI and charges both defendants with one count each of racketeering, attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment also charges Blyden with an additional count of assault with a dangerous weapon. The indictment alleges that from 1999 until October 2005, Mark and Blyden, together with others known and unknown to the grand jury, were members of the Mark-Blyden Enterprise, a criminal organization whose members and associates unlawfully conducted and participated in the affairs of the Mark-Blyden Enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.
The indictment further states that the purpose of the Mark-Blyden Enterprise was to enrich the members and associates of the enterprise through, among other things, the illegal importation and distribution of cocaine and the operation of an unlawful gambling business in relation to dog fighting. According to the indictment, another purpose of the enterprise was to preserve and protect the power, territory and profits of the enterprise through the use of violence. The indictment further alleges that Mark was the leader of the enterprise and Blyden, under the direction of Mark, provided security for the enterprise’s unlawful gambling activities related to the dog fighting in order to ensure the protection of monies wagered and earned by Mark. The indictment alleges that Mark and Blyden committed acts of violence, including the attempted murder of Trevor Nicholas Friday, Jr., on or about May 24, 2004, who threatened the enterprise’s affairs. The indictment also alleges that on or about May 24, 2004, Blyden assaulted another individual with a dangerous weapon in an effort to keep victims in fear of the enterprise through violence and intimidation.
In announcing the indictment, United States Attorney Murphy praised the investigatory work of the DEA and the FBI. The investigation also received the support of the Virgin Islands Attorney General’s Office, the Commissioner of the VIPD and specialized elements of the VIPD.
If convicted of the charges, Mark and Blyden each face a statutory maximum of life imprisonment and $250,000 in fines.
An indictment is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.