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Press Release

Third Defendant, Extradited from the Dominican Republic, Arrested in Connection with Haulover Bay Shootout

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

St. Thomas, USVI – United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced today that Joan Morales Nolasco, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was arrested and appeared yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller in the District Court for his initial appearance hearing. Morales Nolasco was extradited from the Dominican Republic and is charged with Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Certain Officers or Employees (18 U.S.C. § 111); Conspiracy to Traffic Controlled Substances and Attempt to Possess with Intent to Distribute Five Kilograms or More of Cocaine (21 U.S.C. § 846); Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime (18 U.S.C. § 924); and Possession and Discharge of Firearms During and In Relation to a Crime of Violence (18 U.S.C. § 924).

The charges stem from a shooting involving Joan Morales Nolasco, Rammer Guerrero-Morales, and Samuel Elias Pena Columna, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Interdiction Agents in St. John, USVI on September 25, 2019, which took place during an attempted narcotics deal planned by the aforementioned defendants. Guerrero Morales and Pena Columna were previously arrested and are currently awaiting trial. The defendants face up to life in federal prison.

According to Court documents, on September 25, 2019, members of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) conducted a maritime interdiction operation on the north coast of St. John, USVI, near Haulover Bay. This area is a known smuggling location where traffickers offload large shipments of narcotics and U.S. Currency. This location contains a trail that leads from the main road down to the beach of Haulover Bay.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Interdiction Agents observed two individuals, which were armed on a trail that leads down to the beach at Haulover Bay. The Agents identified themselves as “police”. Immediately thereafter, the individuals fired at the Agents. One CBP Air and Marine Interdiction Agent was wounded by the rounds fired by the individuals. Defendant Guerrero Morales was wounded by shots fired in self-
defense by CBP Air and Marine Agents. CBP Air and Marine Agents recovered two firearms at the scene, described as an AR-15 style .223 caliber rifle and a Glock .40 caliber pistol with an extended magazine.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Juan A. Albino.

An indictment contains mere allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated September 24, 2021

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime