Street Gang Member Pleads Guilty to RICO Conspiracy
A Virgin Islands man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
According to court documents, Wahilli James, aka Dapa, of Frederiksted, St. Croix, was a member of the Paul Girard Criminal Enterprise (Enterprise), a local street gang in the Virgin Islands. Members and associates of the Enterprise engaged in narcotics distribution; money laundering; planned armed robberies of jewelry stores, racetracks, and banks; and ultimately, a violent struggle with a rival gang that led to three murders and several other shootings. James participated in two of the armed robberies and provided guns for his co-conspirators to use in criminal activity.
“This defendant is the eleventh and final Girard gang member to either plead guilty or be convicted at trial for their heinous crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “These defendants victimized local residents by waging a bloody street war throughout St. Croix and robbing commercial establishments on both St. Croix and St. Thomas. As this case demonstrates, outstanding cooperation between federal and local law enforcement is vital to dismantling violent criminal enterprises and keeping our communities safe.”
“The Paul Girard Criminal Enterprise was a vicious and lawless gang that terrorized and victimized the people of the Virgin Islands for years,” stated U.S. Attorney Delia Smith for the District of the Virgin Islands. “The tremendous work of the FBI, the Virgin Islands Police Department, and attorneys from my office and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division delivered the ultimate reward to the people of our territory – just and lengthy sentences of imprisonment to those involved.”
“Criminal organizations like the one James took part in thrive by destabilizing governance through violence and intimidation,” said Special Agent in Charge Joseph Gonzalez of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “With this guilty plea, the FBI reiterates its commitment to the safety and wellbeing of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
James pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Paul Girard, the leader of the Enterprise, coordinated all of the gang’s activities while in prison. Girard and two other co-conspirators were convicted at trial in March 2022.
The FBI investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Marie Zisa and Christopher Taylor of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Edwards for the District of the Virgin Islands are prosecuting the case.