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Press Release


For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Virgin Islands

St. Croix, VI – United States Attorney Delia L. Smith announced that Leandro De Los Santos, 33, of the Dominican Republic, was sentenced by Judge Wilma A. Lewis to 70 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute 630 kilograms of cocaine while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

According to court documents, on September 11, 2022, while on routine patrol south of the Dominican Republic, United States Coast Guard Cutter U.S.S. Billings intercepted a go-fast vessel navigating on a northerly course approximately 80 nautical miles south of Bani, Dominican Republic. The vessel had no flag flown, no registration numbers and no name painted on its hull. The Dominican Republic Navy later confirmed that the vessel was not registered with their country, and it was therefore treated as a vessel without nationality thereby subjecting it to the jurisdiction of the United States. Onboard the vessel, the U.S.S. Billings boarding team detained De Los Santos and Victor Reyes-Martinez and recovered 630 kilograms of cocaine. On March 30, 2023, Reyes-Martinez pleaded guilty on March 30, 2023, and was sentenced to 57 months incarceration.

This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Evan Rikhye. This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Updated November 14, 2023

Drug Trafficking