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Press Release

St. Croix Man Pleads Guilty to Manufacturing Marijuana

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

St. Croix, USVI – Jaheem Benjamin, 31, of St. Croix, pled guilty on March 13, 2019, in District Court to one federal count of Manufacture of Marijuana, and one local count of Illegal Use of Utility Equipment, United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced.

This federal offense carries a potential mandatory minimum sentence of not less than five years and up to forty years imprisonment, a maximum fine of up to $5,000,000 dollars, and a term of supervised release of at least 2 years. The local Territorial offense carries a potential fine of not less than $500 nor more than $3,000 or a prison sentence of up to 1 year. Sentencing is set for July 12, 2019.

According to court documents, on February 14, 2017, Mr. Benjamin was growing one-hundred-and-thirty-seven (137) marijuana plants in his garage located on St. Croix. The defendant growing and harvesting the marijuana plants for purposes of sale. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Benjamin admitted that he was selling marijuana for about $2,500 a pound, in order to make a living.

Mr. Benjamin use electrical equipment set up inside his garage to support and facilitate his marijuana grow operation. He operated electrical equipment, using electricity passing through a meter belonging to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority ("WAPA") that had been tampered with and altered. As a result he was able to avoid payment to WAPA for the electricity to run the marijuana grow operation.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Task Force Officers with the Virgin Islands Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel H. Huston.

Updated March 14, 2019

Topic
Drug Trafficking