FORMER CAPE AIR EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE COCAINE
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, VI – United States Attorney Delia L. Smith announced today that Shakari Francis, 27, of St. Thomas, pleaded guilty before Chief District Court Judge Robert A. Molloy to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Francis faces a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment, not less than three years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $1,000,000.00.
According to court documents, Francis worked at Cape Air as a ramp agent at the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas. On January 11, 2023, Francis entered the airport using his secured access with two bricks of cocaine. Francis later met Ahkoy Smith, a ticketed passenger on Spirit Airline’s flight to Fort Lauderdale, FL, in the restrooms located next to the concession area where Francis delivered the two bricks of cocaine to Smith. Federal agents arrested Francis and attempted to arrest Smith as he boarded his flight. When approached by the agents, Smith removed his backpack and threw it to the tarmac and ran onto the active runway. He was apprehended by federal agents and placed under arrest and charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Smith entered a plea agreement with the United States to change his plea from not guilty to guilty.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Everard E. Potter. 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 July 11, 2023